Posted February 14, 2014

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

Miami Dolphins
Richie Incognito (l.) has claimed that his words and actions in the Jonathan Martin case relate to locker-room culture. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

Richie Incognito (l.) has claimed that his words and actions in the Jonathan Martin case relate to locker-room culture. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

The report by independent investigator Ted Wells on the state of the Miami Dolphins organization was released on Friday morning after months of research, and the results are clear — offensive guard Richie Incognito did lead a systemic campaign of bullying and ridicule of not only offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, but also at least one of Incognito’s and Martin’s teammates, and at least one team employee.

Wells, a partner in the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, was hired by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in early November to exhaustively investigate the Dolphins franchise from top to bottom and root out any organizational tumors that may exist. Wells may have run into more than he bargained for.

“Our office has received the report of independent counsel Ted Wells, which sets forth the findings of his investigation into the workplace environment at the Miami Dolphins,” the NFL said in a statement on Friday morning. “Consistent with our commitment at the outset of this matter, the full report has been transmitted to our clubs and has been made public. We appreciate the work of Ted Wells and his colleagues and the cooperation of the Miami Dolphins organization in the investigation. After we have had an opportunity to review the report, we will have further comment as appropriate.”

Read the full Ted Wells report (.pdf)

The facts are as follows:

On Oct. 31, 2013, Martin, the Dolphins’ starting left tackle, left the team based after what was simply described at first as an incident with teammates. Soon after, it was revealed that Martin had tried to sit down to have a meal with some of his teammates, and his teammates all got up to leave. As we were later to discover, this was the last straw for Martin, who had a complicated relationship with Incognito from the start. On Nov. 4, the Dolphins suspended Incognito for conduct detrimental to the team after it was further revealed that Incognito had harassed and intimidated Martin via voicemail, text message, and in person.

Neither Martin not Incognito played another down for the Dolphins last season. While Martin retreated to his family in California, Incognito went on a protracted media campaign in which he trumpeted his innocence in the matter.

“This isn’t an issue about bullying,” Incognito told FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer in an exclusive interview on Nov. 10. “This is an issue of my and Jon’s relationship. You can ask anybody in the Miami Dolphins locker room, ‘Who had Jon Martin’s back the absolute most?’ and they’ll undoubtedly tell you [that it was] me. All this stuff coming out … it speaks to the culture of our locker room. It speaks to the culture of our closeness. It speaks to the culture of our brotherhood. The racism, the bad words … that’s what I regret most, but that is a product of the environment, and that’s something we use all the time.” You can watch the full interview below:

The “culture of the locker room” argument, as well as the fact that Martin appeared to maintain a kind of friendship with Incognito, seemed to exonerate Incognito to a point. But the Wells report blows those theories to bits.

“After a thorough examination of the facts, we conclude that three starters on the Dolphins offensive line, Richie Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey, engaged in a pattern of harassment directed at not only Martin, but also another young Dolphins offensive lineman, whom we refer to as Player A for confidentiality reasons, and a member of the training staff, whom we refer to as the Assistant Trainer,” the report states near the beginning. “We find that the Assistant Trainer repeatedly was targeted with racial slurs and other racially derogatory language. Player A frequently was subjected to homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching. Martin 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.”

As to the culture of the locker room, the Wells report examines this in detail, and tears through the notion that the NFL’s specific modus operandi makes what happened to Martin and to others passable in any way. In fact, as the report said, “however offensive much of the conduct discussed in this Report may have been, it appears that the Dolphins’ rules of workplace behavior were not fully appreciated and, with respect to at least some of their actions, Incognito and his teammates may not have been clearly notified that they were crossing lines that would be enforced by the team with serious sanctions. In fact, many of the issues raised by this investigation appear to be unprecedented. We are unaware of any analogous situation in which anti-harassment policies have been applied to police how NFL teammates communicate and interact with each other.”

In other words, while there’s no question bullying and harassment happen in a lot of NFL workplaces, what happened in Miami last season was far beyond the pale. There is also the allegation, denied by the team, that Dolphins coaches went to Incognito at some point and asked him to test Martin — to get under his skin and see how much he could take.

“For the most part, Incognito does not dispute saying or writing any of the statements that Martin claimed offended him,” the report says. “Further, Incognito admitted that at times the very purpose of the verbal taunts was to ‘get under the skin’ of another person. From Incognito’s perspective, however, the statements in question were an accepted part of the everyday camaraderie of the Dolphins tight-knit offensive line. Incognito told us that Martin (and other offensive linemen) all recognized, accepted and, indeed, actively participated in ‘go-for-the-jugular’ teasing, and that vulgarity and graphic sexual comments were not only a staple of their locker-room culture but also helped them bond.”

But the effects on Martin, who had encountered bullying in high school and was prone to depression, were deep. The report states that Martin “was distressed by his teammates’ language, but attempted to hide his pain, believing that he was too sensitive and that the barbs would stop after his rookie year. We will never know whether a stronger reaction by Martin would have stopped his teammates’ behavior or exacerbated it. But Martin told us that he did not view a physical response as a viable option. Martin was a rookie when the verbal abuse began in 2012, and he was not going to begin his professional football career by trying to punch out Incognito, one of the leaders of the offensive line, who had Jerry and Pouncey backing him up. Indeed, Martin believed that trying to engage in a physical confrontation with these three—whom he viewed as a united group—would only make matters worse.

“Martin came to view his failure to stand up to his teammates as a personal shortcoming. According to Martin, the mistreatment by his teammates and his inability to make them stop the insults drove him into depression and led him to contemplate suicide on two occasions in 2013. Martin noted that in his four preceding years at Stanford, before he arrived at the Dolphins, he had no significant issues with depression and experienced no suicidal thoughts.”

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.