Martin left Dolphins because of 'racial insults and explicit sexual taunts'
Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin twice considered suicide during a sustained campaign of harassment from teammates, an NFL independent commission’s report has revealed.
backed , during which Martin was continually subjected to racial insults and explicit sexual taunts about his family.
According to investigator Ted Wells’ findings, the three veterans also targeted another unnamed young offensive lineman, subjecting him to ‘homophobic name calling and inappropriate physical touching,’ while also racially abusing another Dolphins assistant trainer.
Martin, a Stanford educated, two-time All-American with a history of depression, left the team mid-way through his second season in November 2013 after a lunchroom prank proved to be a breaking point, following a long campaign that had continued beyond his rookie season.
“In short, the treatment of Martin and others in the Miami Dolphins organization at times was offensive and unacceptable in any environment, including the world professional football players inhabit,” the report says.
“Martin claims that the depression he experienced in high school recurred as a result of mistreatment by his teammates on the Dolphins and that on two occasions in 2013 he even contemplated suicide,” it continued.
For his part, Incognito was suspended indefinitely by the Dolphins after he was pinned as a ringleader, as obscene and abusive voicemails and text messages were leaked to the media, sparking a national debate over locker room culture.
Incognito, described in the report as “the main instigator,” has and recently made public more than 1,300 text messages, exchanged between the pair as proof of a friendship the report called “odd, but seemingly close” and Martin called “bi-polar”.
Wells’ investigation – requested by the Dolphins organisation following the allegations of misconduct – also rejected suggestions Martin had fabricated the harassment as a way out following a string of underwhelming performances.
“We reject the assertion by Incognito that Martin has fabricated claims of harassment after the fact,” the report concludes.
“Contemporaneous text messages that Martin sent to his parents and others months before he left the Dolphins—which have never before been made public—corroborate Martin’s account that he was distressed by insults from his teammates and experiencing emotional turmoil because he believed he was “a push over” who was unable to stop the verbal assaults,” it added.
The three Dolphins players implicated have yet to comment on the findings, although Incognito, the public face of the scandal went on a Twitter rampage earlier this week claiming, “the truth will bury” the Martin camp.
: “Dear Jon Martin. The truth is going to bury you and your entire “camp.” You could have told the truth the entire time.”
: “I’m guilty of being a loyal friend and good teammate. I apologize for my poor language and rude remarks [within the public text messages]. I’ve never denied it.”
Perhaps tellingly, he said Martin had confided in him, claiming poor performances were responsible for his suicidal suicidal feelings.
: “FACT: Jonathan Martin told me he thought about taking his own life in MAY 2013 b/c he wasn’t playing well. Told me he felt worthless.”
The report pointed out Wells’ team were not in a position to evaluate precisely what triggered Martin’s suicidal thoughts, despite the player’s assertions the abuse suffered at the hands of teammates was responsible. It also acknowledged Martin’s “heightened sensitivity” to insults due to his previous mental health issues.
“Nevertheless, although Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey verbally harassed Martin, we find that they did not intend to drive Martin from the team or cause him lasting emotional injury,” the report added.
Incognito’s attorney Mark Schamel released a statement claiming the report was “replete with errors.”
He said: “It is disappointing that Mr. Wells would have gotten it so wrong, but not surprising.”
The Miami Dolphins organisation – implicated following early allegations that someone on the staff had told Incognito to “toughen up,” Martin – released a statement vowing to review the findings before making further comment.
It read: “We have just received the report from Ted Wells and will review it in detail before responding relative to the findings. When we asked the NFL to conduct this independent review, we felt it was important to take a step back and thoroughly research these serious allegations. As an organization, we are committed to a culture of team-first accountability and respect for one another.”
An NFL representative added: “We appreciate the work of Ted Wells and his colleagues and the cooperation of the organization in the investigation. After we have had an opportunity to review the report, we will have further comment as appropriate.”
The report concluded 24-year old Martin should have the opportunity to return to football without fear of harassment.
“A young football player who has the skills to play at the highest level, and who also happens to be quiet and reserved, should have the opportunity to pursue a career in the NFL without being subjected to harassment from his teammates.
“Martin has expressed a desire to continue his NFL career, and we hope that he will have the opportunity to do so. His brief experience in the league was derailed by harassment from his teammates, and it would be unfortunate if he did not get the chance to resume playing in an environment that will permit him to reach his full potential as a professional athlete.”