NEW YORK (AP) — Two other Miami Dolphins offensive linemen joined Richie Incognito in bullying Jonathan Martin and at least one other lineman and an assistant trainer were also targets of the vicious taunts and insults, according to the report from an investigation ordered by the National Football League.
The report released Friday said John Jerry and Mike Pouncey followed Incognito’s lead in harassing Martin, who left the team in October, about not being black enough, threatening to rape his sister and calling him a long list of slurs.
Martin’s agent Kenneth Zuckerman said his client feels “vindicated” by the report and plans to continue playing football. “He feels a great sense of relief,” Zuckerman said. “Jonathan Martin is a great man and he’s only shown me that he is very honest since the day I met him. He loves football and is eager to get back on the field, regardless of what team he plays for.”
Incognito’s attorney Mark Schamel released a statement calling Wells’ report “replete with errors” and said that Martin “was never bullied by Richie Incognito or any member of the Dolphins’ offensive line.”
Incognito has since offered apologies to Martin, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and investigator Ted Wells. On his Twitter account Tuesday, Incognito wrote, “I would like to send Jonathan my apologies as well. Until someone tells me different you are still my brother. No hard feelings :)”
He also apologized to Wells and Ross, saying “this (stuff) got cray, cray.” “There are no winners in the courts,” he wrote. “Just families left to deal with their decisions and pick up the pieces. You can’t free something.”
Incognito, 30, had closed his Twitter account for two days but returned Monday night with a noticeably different tone, apologizing for “acting like a big baby.”
The 6-foot-3, 319-pound lineman said he wants to play football again.
His contract with the Dolphins is about the expire, making him an unrestricted free agent who can sign with any team. Where he’ll end up remains to be seen.
It’s unclear if Incognito will face punishment from the NFL. League spokesman Greg Aiello told The Associated Press on Monday that the NFL will comment “at the appropriate time” on Wells’ report.
Incognito’s tweets have taken on a vastly different tone than they did less than a week ago, when he went on a rant that quickly went viral, blasting Martin and his representative Ken Zuckerman.
“The truth is going to bury you and your entire camp. You could have told the truth the entire time,” Incognito tweeted last week. Incognito also wrote at the time Martin had threatened to commit suicide and listed a suicide prevention hotline.
Incognito previously has taken shots at Wells, the independent investigator who released the 144-page report detailing Incognito’s lewd and vulgar comments toward Martin and harassment of another offensive lineman and an assistant trainer with the Dolphins.
Martin has two years remaining on his rookie contract with the Dolphins but his future with the team remains uncertain. He declined interview request through Zuckerman.
Incognito was suspended in November, but Pouncey and Jerry remained starters throughout the season. Another offensive lineman and an assistant trainer also routinely came under attack from the trio. Neither was identified in the report.
The report also chronicled Martin’s struggle to deal with the harassment, including emotional text exchanges with his parents and a description of him crying in the bathroom after one particularly painful attack.
Martin also told investigators that he “believed that trying to engage in a physical confrontation with these three – whom he viewed as a united group – would only make matters worse.” Wells’ report said Martin was subjected to “a pattern of harassment.” He said his inquiry found Martin was taunted and ridiculed almost daily.
Although Wells concluded that Martin was abused by three teammates, he qualified some of the assertions in Martin’s account. 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.”
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.”