Breaking his silence in the Dolphins' alleged bullying scandal, guard Richie Incognito acknowledged in a television interview shown Sunday that he did leave a racially charged message for teammate Jonathan Martin, but he said he is not a racist.
Incognito also said he regretted that the situation has turned into a national controversy, and that he would hug Martin and tell him he did not intend any of his comments to be malicious.
"When I see that voice mail, when I see those words come up across the screen, I'm embarrassed by it. I'm embarrassed by my actions,'' Incognito told Fox Sports' Jay Glazer. "But what I want people to know is, the way Jonathan and the rest of the offensive line and how our teammates, how we communicate, it's vulgar. It's, it's not right . . . I understand why a lot of eyebrows get raised. But people don't know how Jon and I communicate to one another.''
Incognito said Martin sent him a text that could be interpreted as malicious.
"A week before this went down, Jonathan texted me, 'I will murder your whole ---- family.' Now did I think he was going to murder my family? Not one bit. I know it was coming from a brother, a friend, a teammate. It puts in context how we communicate with one another.''
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Despite the outcry and accusations, Incognito said: "I'm not a racist. And to judge me by that one word is wrong. In no way, shape or form is it ever acceptable for me to use that word, even if it's friend to friend on a voice mail. I regret that.''
The Dolphins suspended Incognito on Nov. 3 after learning of the voice mail. Martin, who left the team Oct. 30 after an incident in its cafeteria, remains with family in California as NFL-appointed attorney Ted Wells prepares an investigation.
Martin hired sports attorney David Cornwell, who in a statement last week said Martin departed because of a pattern of bullying within the locker room.
Incognito said he contacted Martin a few days after the tackle left the team, and that Martin indicated he had no specific problem with Incognito.
"I spoke with him through text message, and he texted me and said, 'I don't blame you guys. I blame some stuff in the locker room. I blame the culture [and] what was going on around me.'
"When all this stuff got going and swirling, bullying got attached to it and my name got attached to it. I texted him as a friend and was like, 'What's up with this, man?' He said, 'It's not coming from me. I haven't said anything to anybody.' And I'm like, 'OK.' ''
Incognito said he would make those texts public. "I'd give him a big hug now because we've been through so much and I'd just be like, 'Dude, what's going on? Why didn't you come to me?' ''
"If he were to say, 'Listen, you took it way too far. You hurt me.' . . . I would just apologize and explain to him exactly what I explained to you, and apologize to his family. They took it as malicious. I never meant it that way.''