Richie Incognito used 'pattern of harassment' toward Jonathan Martin, report finds
Jonathan Martin and others were subjected to "a pattern of harassment" by Richie Incognito and two other Miami Dolphins players, according to an independent investigation led by attorney Ted Wells. The 144-page report, which details the events that led to the high-profile incident in which Martin left the team and Incognito was suspended for his behavior, was released Friday morning.
The report comes with a warning that the language and behavior described in it "are extremely vulgar." It concluded that three starters on the Dolphins' offensive line -- Incognito, who is described as "the main instigator," along with John Jerry and Mike Pouncey -- engaged in "a pattern of harassment directed at not only Jonathan Martin but also another young Dolphins offensive lineman and an assistant trainer."
The trainer repeatedly was made the object of racial slurs and derogatory language. The other player, the report says, was subjected to "homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching."
Martin, meanwhile, was "taunted on a persistent basis with sexually explicit remarks about his sister and his mother and at times ridiculed with racial insults and other offensive comments," Wells said.
Wells' report "rejects any suggestion that Martin manufactured claims of abuse after the fact to cover up an impetuous decision to leave the team." It cites text messages from Martin to his parents and others months before he left the team -- messages never made public -- to "corroborate his account that the persistent harassment by his teammates caused him significant emotional distress."
In one of those texts to his mother, Martin describes being harassed on a yacht during an outing with teammates and sobbing in the restroom.
Among the other findings of the report are that Martin never reported the abuse to the Dolphins and that coach Joe Philbin and Dolphins management were unaware of the harassment; that Incognito kept a book to tally the fines he levied against fellow linemen and knew his harassment was affecting Martin; that Martin created a list of pros and cons to help him decide if he should continue his NFL career, and that at two points in 2013, Martin contemplated suicide.
Finally, the report concluded that "the harassment by Martin's teammates was a contributing factor in his decision to leave the team, but also finds that Martin's teammates did not intend to drive Martin from the team or cause him lasting emotional injury." It also recommends the creation of "new workplace conduct rules and guidelines that will help ensure that players respect each other as professionals and people."
Although most of the factual findings in the report were corroborated by Incognito, Incognito's attorney, Mark Shamel, issued a statement saying that the report is "replete with errors."
"It is disappointing that Mr. Wells would have gotten it so wrong, but not surprising," the statement said. "The truth, as reported by the Dolphins players and as shown by the evidence, is that Jonathan Martin was never bullied by Richie Incognito or any member of the Dolphins offensive line."
The investigation was requested by the Dolphins and procured by the NFL, but Wells acted independently from the league with the cooperation of teams and players.
"I now have had a chance to read the report and obviously, the language that was used and the behavior as described is deeply disturbing," Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in a statement Friday night.
Upon receipt of the report, the NFL and the NFL Players Association issued statements saying they would comment once the findings were digested.