Posted February 14, 2014

Report on Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga: History of ‘persistent bullying, harassment and ridicule’ within Dolphins

Miami Dolphins
Head coach Joe Philbin claimed not to know what was going on in his own locker room. (J Pat Carter/AP)

Head coach Joe Philbin claimed not to know what was going on in his own locker room. (J Pat Carter/AP)

Perhaps the most complex dynamic of the story is the relationship between Incognito and Martin. As Incognito said in his November interview with Glazer, “I think if you would ask Jonn Martin a week before who his best friend on the team was, he would say, Richie Incognito.  The first guy to stand up for Jonathan when anything went down on the field, any kind of tussle, Richie was the first guy there. When they wanted to hang out outside of football, who was together? Richie and Jonathan.”

But that kind of friendship could easily have been Martin’s way of coping. The Wells report stated clearly that what happened in Miami was consistent with workplace harassment, and quite frequently in any harassment situation, the harassed party will try to find way to “get along to go along” because there is no other option if one wants to retain one’s position in an organization.

The man who was allegedly directly responsible for whatever edicts Incognito was given to “toughen Martin up” was offensive line coach Jim Turner, who looks absolutely horrible — borderline unemployable — in the report.

“Turner was aware of the running ‘joke’ that Player A was gay, and on at least one occasion, he participated in the taunting,” the report states. “Around Christmas 2012, Coach Turner gave the offensive linemen gift bags that included a variety of stocking stuffers. The gifts included inflatable female dolls for all of the offensive linemen except Player A, who received a male ‘blow-up’ doll. Martin and another player reported that they were surprised Coach Turner did this; Martin further said that he was offended that Turner had endorsed the humiliating treatment of Player A by participating in it. Incognito and others agreed that this incident with Coach Turner occurred. When interviewed, Turner was asked if he gave Player A a male blow-up doll. He replied, ‘I can’t remember.’ We do not believe that Turner forgot this incident, which many others recalled.”

And in meetings, when offensive linemen were berated for missing assignments, and opined that a teammate might be responsible for an offensive play that went wrong, Turner would term that player as a “Judas.” As the report states, “We accept that the fear of being labeled a ‘snitch’ or a ‘Judas’ played a role in Martin’s decision not to report abuse from his teammates. Martin believed that going to his coaches or other authority figures meant risking ostracism or even retaliation from his fellow linemen.

“At the same time, we strongly believe that if Martin had reported the harassment to a coach or front office executive (or even his agent), the team may have been able to address his issues before it was too late. There is no question that the better course of action would have been for Martin to report the abuse. We also agree with the view, expressed by many of Martin’s teammates, that it would have been preferable for Martin’s grievances to be handled inside the Dolphins organization rather than played out in the national news media.”

No doubt this would have been preferable for all involved. But it’s clear that Martin felt that he had no friends in the organization — not only because he was harassed, but because he witnessed the harassment of others. The harassment of “Player A” has already been detailed, but the treatment of the team employee — an Asian-American assistant trainer — was particularly unseemly.

“On December 7, 2012 (the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor), Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey donned traditional Japanese headbands that featured a rising sun emblem and jokingly threatened to harm the Assistant Trainer physically in retaliation for the Pearl Harbor attack. Martin reported that the Assistant Trainer confided to him that he was upset about the Pearl Harbor prank, finding it derogatory and demeaning.

“Jerry and Pouncey each admitted that they repeatedly used racial language toward the Assistant Trainer—including calling him a ‘Jap’ and a ‘Chinaman’—and acknowledged their Pearl Harbor Day stunt.”

Martin told Wells that until this happened, he had never seen flagrant racial taunting. The trainer’s response — to laugh uneasily at the actions of Incognito and others — may have added to Martin’s belief that the only way to deal with this was to try and work through it the best way he knew how. But Martin, a sensitive individual prone to introspection, was in no way equipped to handle such things without some sort of help. And for whatever reason, Martin did not believe that he would receive that help from anyone in the organization.

“According to Martin, he told Turner that he had anxiety about football in a general sense, but he intentionally did not tell Turner that he was depressed because of the treatment by his teammates and his inability to confront them, which he viewed as a personal flaw. When we asked Martin why he had not disclosed his view that he was being harassed by some of his teammates, Martin told us that his reluctance to talk about his teammates’ conduct stemmed from what he perceived to be a ‘code’ in professional football that a player should not ‘snitch’ on his teammates.”

Turner exacerbated this situation on Nov. 2 when he sent messages to Martin, basically insisting that he lie on Incognito’s behalf. From the report:

November 2, 2013:

Turner: Richie incognito is getting hammered on national TV. This is not right. You could put an end to all the rumors with a simple statement. DO THE RIGHT THING. NOW.

Martin: Coach. I want to put out a statement. Believe me I do. This thing has become such a huge story somehow. But I’ve been advised not to… And I’m not supposed to text anyone either cuz last time I responded to a teammate (Richie) I was intentionally manipulated and the conversation was immediately forwarded to a reporter.

Turner: He is protecting himself. He has been beat up for 4 days. Put an end to this. You are a grown man. Do the right thing

Turner: John I want the best for you and your health but make a statement and take the heat off Richie and the lockerroom. This isn’t right.

November 3, 2013:

Turner: I know you are a man of character. Where is it?

November 6, 2013:

Turner: It is never to (sic) late to do the right thing!

“Turner sent these text messages to Martin knowing that Martin had hospitalized himself in connection with a mental health condition, and in the face of public reports indicating that Martin’s emotional condition may have been a reaction to his teammates’ bullying and abusive behavior,” the report states.

Head coach Joe Philbin has stated repeatedly that he knew nothing of the conduct going on in his own locker room. The report states that Philbin became worried about Martin only after Martin didn’t turn up. He paced the sidelines during practice, asking repeatedly for updates on Martin’s whereabouts, and visited Martin in the hospital after Martin texted his mother, coaches Philbin and Turner, and the assistant trainer, to let them know that he was alright, but in a local hospital. And while it seems incomprehensible that a head coach could not know about such things going on right under his nose for so long, it’s actually fairly common for players to create a space away from their coaches. And that space is usually the locker room.

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who runs about as positive and functional a program as can be run in the NFL at this point in time, told me last November that he felt relatively comfortable and confident that he would know if this was happening in his locker room… but there was an element of uncertainty in what he said.

“I have asked. I just asked around to make sure that everything is okay, and we haven’t had any issues about that because that can be the case. I think we’re in really good shape, and I said, ‘I’m going to go up there and talk to these guys today.’ I want my information to be right. I want to make sure, is there anything going on that I don’t know about? As far as I can tell from the people that I’ve talked to, I think we’re in really good shape that way. It’s never been an issue, and that didn’t happen in college either. I just don’t like it; I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”

The Dolphins’ response to the Wells report was simple.

“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 Dolphins may have been committed to a nebulous concept of accountability and respect, but it’s clear from the evidence presented that the franchise had no earthly idea how to put those ideas into practice. Now, we await the ramifications, in all kinds of ways.


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357 comments
BarrySoetoro
BarrySoetoro

Had the color of the players been switched: NO Problem.

MarkBecker
MarkBecker

our ex defensive coach , Mike Zimmer, now HC of the MInnesota Vikings..great coach


wonders how the NFL will deal with his profanities calling players "puss..ies and peices of sht"


all the time..LOLOL

dandogwood
dandogwood

The Dolphins are 8-8 with these two bums a gay blade Martin and a bully slob Incognothing. cut them both it's not like the Dolphins are winning anything. 

gfs4417
gfs4417

Is this the NFL or pee-wee football?

Martin needs to grow a pair.

fuggetaboutit909
fuggetaboutit909

I still wonder why martin never went to his superiors and tell them to get this guy away from him.

fuggetaboutit909
fuggetaboutit909

kinda feels like bounty-gate......


a culture that every team seemingly has to some degree is microscoped and magnified to the point where the only response from organization like the NFL is to napalm the whole damn thing (figuratively speaking of course).


by the report this dolphins thing seems to be more ridiculous than most but expect the "rules" to be handed down like a ton of bricks.   yearly corporate sensitivity training for all as decreed by rodger gooddell.

fuggetaboutit909
fuggetaboutit909

i guess once the hammer of the NFL comes down on the locker room culture anyone who thouht that michael sam was going to get "hazed" by his peers may want to think again.....


sam could not have picked a better time to "come out" while coming in.

The_truth_hurts
The_truth_hurts

If the Dolphins can get some Gatorade or sunflower seeds for Martin, they should make that trade.

ArchMage
ArchMage

"Pete Carroll, who runs about as positive and functional a program as can be run in the NFL at this point in time"
And has a real problem with players suspended for PED's and has a team known for belittling other players on the field on national TV....
Do you really want to hold him up as a model coach?

slushersweet
slushersweet

From the get go I have though that Incognito was a closet case and was sexually pressuring Martin -- I've seen it happen with these hyper-masculine guys that happen to be sexually attracted to guys. They simply do not know how to deal with their urges, and because homophobia is so rampant in sports, they start doing that type of stuff. Kinda like in grade school when a little boy likes a little girl, he might pull her hair or make some weird comment to her. He knows of no other way to relate to her. This is what is happening here.

JackHoff
JackHoff

What a tub of lard, a no good piece of human excrement.

Dumptruck
Dumptruck

Up next: The Combine will include an extensive Psychological Test where they determine if you are depressed, happy, were sexually molested as a child, are addicted to asianmilfs.com, have low self-esteem, etc... 

Dumptruck
Dumptruck

Does anybody else think "Player A" is Jake Long?

armagecko
armagecko

I suppose "the press" will go after Navy SEALs next, saying that their training conditions presents a "stressful" and "hazardous" workplace and that the "verbal abuse" creates an overall unacceptable working environment. Where does this nonsense end??


I think Incognito got a LOT carried away. I think the coaches should have encouraged a more-controlled way of "getting under [Martin's] skin." However, I also think that Richie was just trying to be a tough guy & do what he was asked with what little guidance he was given. Yes, he should've realized he had taken it too far. Yes, his language and taunts were unacceptable. But, these guys are not hired for their communication skills. Never will be.


NFL players are all gladiators, and if they can't take some harsh language, they need to find another occupation. Hopefully, Johnathan Martin does exactly that and I wish him well. Richie deserves a suspension and another chance. 


After all, Ray Lewis was all but implicated in a criminal murder investigation & Michael Vick served hard time for cruelly murdering his own pets! Name-calling - even repugnant name-calling - seems to be a far lesser crime here. We need a good dose of perspective, and I doubt that we're going to get it from the so-called press, who only cares about turning this into the next "shocking controversy." Keeps us reading and keeps them paid, right? Poor Michael Sam is next in line. I hope he's ready. 

Dumptruck
Dumptruck

I love how the report points the Fickle Finger of Fate at Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey, but NOT the coaches or management. The NFL paid for the report, so it automatically will assign blame on anyone EXCEPT management. I can't believe the NFLPA has been strangely silent in all this, either.


I find this incredible because just re-watch the Dolphins last year on HBO's "Hard Knocks"... they tout how Philburn runs such a taught ship, controls everything, knows everything, even appoints a "Player's Council", but didn't know this was going down in his house? Give us all a break!


The only part of the report I give props to is where it mentions that this whole matter should of been handled by Martin doing something, anything, to get this matter resolved at the team level. Anything except what he did, which in the long run, has ruined several people's lives- including himself!

Gs1
Gs1

High draft pick + high expectations + poor performance + coddled individual with recurring bouts of depression + thin skin + sue happy mommy & daddy being blood sucking lawyers + alpha male teammates that expect you to pull your weight = perfect storm.


Doug Farrar needs to re-read the report and not just post select quotes that supports what he had already decided was the truth.  This has to do with a young man that wasn't mentally/emotionally able to cope with the high expectations of a top draft pick and his lack of production. 

Martin wasn't performing well and was writing to his mother that he wasn't doing well and whining like a kid homesick at summer camp. He was not harassed anymore then the typical rookie/newbie/new guy. Every member of that O-Line had experienced the other leaving the table when they sat down to eat. It was a joke. 

Martin is a person that suffers from depression and has a thin-skin and he snapped. Even his most ardent supporter, his former college coach Jim Harbaugh, admitted that Martin suffered from depression. What's even more disturbing is Martin's apparent two-faced behavior of acting like him and incognito were best friends. Incognito may be an azz, but Martin brought that upon himself by pretending to be his friend and making him believe his jokes were acceptable.

BruthaDee
BruthaDee

The harsh reality is that there will never be any compassion for a 300lb professional athlete who is considered non-white.

There would be outrage and compassion if this were a white Wes Welker being bullied by a angry Richard Sherman and there would be outrage and compassion if this victim was an effeminized and emasculated homosexual non-white.

That's just how America is, racism and bullying is what America truly is in her essence.

MrArlington
MrArlington

Well Jonathon Martin will have him a nice lawsuit to get rich off of. Clearly a lack of institutional oversight on the part of the Dolphins.

Suncawy
Suncawy

In reading these posts, It seems people are okay with Incognito and believe Martin to be gay or weak. That what Incognito did was somehow okay because that's what goes on in NFL locker rooms. Well, why did Richard Sherman get so upset with people calling him thug, among other things ? He should have been use to it since name calling is normal for these NFL players. The point is the players are still human and still get offended by what others say about them, no matter who it is.

MarkBecker
MarkBecker

@fuggetaboutit909  ..because he was a willing participant..and when he got demoted he tried changing the story with advice fronm the lawyer in the family


now he will make millions off this


end of story

fuggetaboutit909
fuggetaboutit909

@dandogwood  ....


what makes you think martin was anything..... and why would you think that his preferrences had anything to do with the treatment he received.


I dont understand.

dandogwood
dandogwood

@ArchMage  how dumb are you? Pete won a D1 title and a SuperBowl. Put another pad on take a midol and lay down.

earlettehannibal
earlettehannibal

@dandogwood  and the other people he bullied and tormented, the trainer, the employees at the golf event.  You condone this behavior?  #PATHETIC

earlettehannibal
earlettehannibal

@dandogwood  Obviously you didn't read the report in which Incognito texted a white former player and told him which gun to buy to "shoot black people all black people". #SICK

Irony
Irony

So you want to repeatedly call Martin gay as an explanation for Incognito's bullying?

What does Martin have to do with Incognito bullying an Asian trainer?

What does Martin have to do with Incognito talking about what gun is good for shooting blacks (but he uses a racial slur)?

What does Martin have to do with Incognito assaulting a woman?

What does Martin have to do with Incognito assaulting people when he is drunk (the tornado)?

What does Martin have to do with Incognito trying to destroy evidence of his guilt?

Read the report, it's stomach-turning.

pirate
pirate

@dandogwood Are you high? There has been no such evidence. Martin was not the problem. Incognito, Pouncey et a are the problem, and need at minimum a 1-year suspension, at the end of which they can return if they show they understand they have to change their behavior and act like adults, not 9 year olds.

pirate
pirate

@dandogwood No, I'm pretty sure you're the one who is weak with mental issues.

pirate
pirate

@dandogwood Where is your evidence that Martin is gay? Because he didn't respond to Incognito's bullying with more of the same? Don't be a fool.

BillieBob
BillieBob

@dandogwood  

So anyone who is gay and / or doesn't like being racially abused should be banned from the work place? How 'bout we ban you from being a football fan, since you're also an ignorant fool.

dandogwood
dandogwood

@Dumptruck  obviously Martin is gay weak and empty inside and not capable of playing in the NFL and incognito is just a scum bag.

Irony
Irony

You've obviously:

A) Never been in an NFL locker room.

B) Not read the actual report.

C) Not see

n the comments of several current and former NFL athletes who say this isn't how it normally is in an NFL locker room.

Sdwalt
Sdwalt

@armagecko I am sure there is nothing related between the US Navy Seals and the NFL. One is a game and the other is life and death.

WilliamCross
WilliamCross

Um, the federal labor laws disagree with you.

Voiceover310
Voiceover310

@Dumptruck  Did you read the report? It doesn't exonerate all the coaches or management. The key to reading is COMPREHENSION!! 

BillieBob
BillieBob

@Gs1  

Clearly, you know zero about depression and zero about how a good teammate should act. Easy to be an armchair tough guy, which is what macho blowhards usually are...

MarkBecker
MarkBecker

@MrArlington  ..have u lost yur marbles dude..90% of all NFL players act like this


the hazing we took in ninth grade when trying to get into a fraternity was worse than this

a52wkhi
a52wkhi

@Suncawy Sherman got upset with NON-NFL players calling him that. Big difference. It's like black people calling each other the N-word. They can do it, but white people can'y do it to them. Sherman would probably laugh if one of his teammates called him a thug.

Gs1
Gs1

@Suncawy This is a game played by alpha males that expect other alpha males to carry their weight on the field. They don't have the time nor the inclination to coddle an individual that doesn't have their act together. This is how they make their living and feed their families. They don't need people whining and making excuses. As such, they expect other alpha males to have enough confidence in themselves to take the pressure and their sense of humor.


Imagine being in boot camp and have someone like Martin asking for a time out because the drill instructor was being mean to him? Ruck-up, cowboy-up. Have some confidence & deal with it.

MrArlington
MrArlington

@Suncawy A lot of these folks aren't the most sophisticated. Your use of logic will not sway them.

MarkBecker
MarkBecker

@WilliamCross  ..and in cnsideration of such..a determination will have to be made as to what consttutes "normal behavior" in the nfl lockeroom


this was not a case of incognito harassing front office staff


martin was just as complicit as incognito


and those laws yu speak of require an employee to one...tell the other employee to stp


two..go to management and file a formal complaint


martin never really did any of this..he continued to participate


and when he was demoted..he all of a sudden complains about harrssment


hogwash

WilliamCross
WilliamCross

Sherman got "mad" to deflect attention from his stupid rant.

davey23
davey23

@Gs1 @SuncawyThe definition of acceptable behavior does change from workplace to workplace to some degree. I understand the alpha male aspect of this, and how that relates to the definition of acceptable. That said, I disagree with the implications of your statement, the comparisons to the military are questionable at best, and all of this could, and perhaps should, come down to legal questions.

The question I have for you, and the debate at a larger scale, is if NFL workplaces are covered by OSHA and ADA laws. As far as I'm aware, the NFL has nothing more than light anti-trust exemption and non-profit status. If this is the case,  then the discrimination outlined in the Wells report is patently illegal. Moreover, OSHA guarantees specific provisions within the workplace which are not apparent in the report. Whatever you think of "cowboy-ing up" as part of NFL life, the presence of laws dictating that some provisions must exist is key here.

pirate
pirate

@dandogwood @BillieBob Don't be a fool. I know, you can't help yourself, but try. THe only question that matters is if he can play. Sounds like he didn't really get a chance to show us.