NFL: Jonathan Martin was bullied by Richie Incognito, report concludes
An investigation has concluded that Miami Dolphins' Richie Incognito and two others did bully teammate Jonathan Martin.
Last Updated: 14/02/14 5:51pm
The report, by NFL-appointed investigator Ted Wells, has been eagerly awaited in the United States. The scandal, which gripped the nation, erupted in November last year and Incognito was suspended until the end of the season by the Dolphins.
Martin left the Dolphins at the end of October last year, alleging he was bullied by Incognito and two other players, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey. In addition it was alleged that an assistant trainer and another offensive lineman had been subjected to abuse.
In a Twitter rant on Wednesday, Incognito insisted the report would clear him.
But Wells concluded otherwise, finding that Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey did engage in a "pattern of harassment" against Martin, though the report adds that their intention had not been to drive him out of the team.
Wells said: "The Report concludes 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 Jonathan Martin, but also another young Dolphins offensive lineman and an assistant trainer.
"The Report finds that the assistant trainer repeatedly was the object of racial slurs and other racially derogatory language; that the other offensive lineman was subjected to homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching; and that 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.
"The Report rejects any suggestion that Martin manufactured claims of abuse after the fact to cover up an impetuous decision to leave the team.
Contemporaneous text messages that Martin sent to his parents and others months before he left the Dolphins - which have never before been made public - corroborate his account that the persistent harassment by his teammates caused him significant emotional distress.
"The Report concludes 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."
Wells revealed that Incognito and Martin exchanged over 1000 texts in the space of a year, with teasing and crude banter going both ways.
"Nonetheless," Wells added, "we ultimately concluded that Martin was indeed harassed by Incognito, who can fairly be described as the main instigator, and by Jerry and Pouncey, who tended to follow Incognito's lead."
The NFL said it would not comment on the 144-page report until it had studied it in its entirety.
The NFL Players Association also released a statement, saying they would "reviewing the findings closely, confer with our players and all relevant parties involved."
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said they would also be looking at it closely.
"We have just received the report from Ted Wells and will review it in detail before responding relative to the findings," said Ross' statement.
"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 organisation, we are committed to a culture of team-first accountability and respect for one another."