Inquiry says Incognito, two others harassed Martin

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Inquiry says Incognito, two others harassed Martin
February 14, 2014, 8:15 am
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Ted Wells report

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NEW YORK -- Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin was subjected to "a pattern of harassment" that included racist slurs and vicious sexual taunts about his mother and sister by three teammates, according to a report ordered by the NFL.

The report said Richie Incognito, who was suspended by the Dolphins in November, and fellow offensive linemen John Jerry and Mike Pouncey harassed Martin. Another offensive lineman and an assistant trainer also routinely came under attack. Neither was named in the report.

Lawyer Ted Wells released his 144-page report Friday.

[PDF: Ted Wells' complete report]

Wells says his inquiry found Martin was taunted and ridiculed almost daily. After Martin left the team in October, Incognito boasted about "breaking Jmart" in a notebook the linemen used to tally fines and bonuses among themselves. When the investigation began, Incognito asked another player to destroy the book, but investigators obtained it.

The other harassed player was "subjected to homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching," while the assistant trainer, who was born in Japan, was subjected to racial slurs.

"It was not difficult to conclude that the Assistant Trainer and Player A were harassed, but the questions raised in Martin's case were more complex, nuanced and difficult," the report says.

Although Wells concluded that Martin was abused by three teammates, he qualified some of the assertions in Martin's account.

[RATTO: Martin breaks NFL mold, encourages independent thinking]

Evaluating Martin's claims was difficult, "given his mental health issues, his possible heightened sensitivity to insults and his unusual, 'bipolar' friendship with Incognito," the report said.

"Nonetheless, we ultimately concluded that Martin was indeed harassed by Incognito, who can fairly be described as the main instigator."

[RELATED: Incognito lashes out at Martin on Twitter]

In a statement emailed by a league spokesman, the NFL did not make any mention of possible punishment stemming from the case. Instead, the league confirmed that it had received Wells' report, and said it appreciated the Dolphins' cooperation with the investigation.

Wells said he does not intend to comment further.

The report comes about three months after Wells was retained by the league to investigate the case, which prompted a national debate about hazing and workplace bullying.

Incognito is white. Martin's father is black and his mother is white.

[RELATED: 1-on-1 with Jonathan Martin]

Martin told investigators Incognito joked that he and other teammates would rape Martin's sister, a medical student none of them had ever met. Incognito also called Martin various racial slurs, made jokes about slavery and routinely demeaned Martin for not being "black enough."

The report said Pouncey and Jerry followed Incognito's lead.

"To a great extent, Incognito dictated the culture," the report said. "We doubt that matters would have gotten so out of hand had Incognito not set a tone on the offensive line that made extremely vulgar taunting a typical form of communication."

The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Martin abruptly left the team Oct. 28. He was briefly hospitalized and then joined his family in California and underwent counseling for emotional issues. Incognito was barred from the season's last eight games.

Incognito expressed regrets about the racist and profane language he used with Martin, but said it stemmed from a culture of locker-room "brotherhood," not bullying.

Martin has said he tried to be friends with Incognito. The two players traded more than a thousand text messages in a year's span, and the teasing and vulgar banter went both ways, with references to sex, drugs, violence and bawdy behavior, often in a jocular tone.

"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," Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said. "As an organization, we are committed to a culture of team-first accountability and respect for one another."

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross released the following statement:

"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."

The NFL Players Association release their statement: 

"We have received the report on workplace conditions in Miami. We will review the findings closely, confer with our players and all relevant parties involved."

Richie Incognito’s attorney Mark Schamel released his statement:

“Mr. Wells' NFL report is replete with errors. The facts do not support a conclusion that Jonathan Martin's mental health, drug use, or on field performance issues were related to the treatment by his teammates.

"It is disappointing that Mr. Wells would have gotten it so wrong, but not surprising. 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. We are analyzing the entire report and will release a thorough analysis as soon as it is ready.”

 

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