Jonathan Martin Suffered "Significant Emotional Distress": NFL Report

Martin suffered "significant emotional distress" at the hands of Richie Incognito and two other Dolphins teammates, according to the final report by independent NFL investigator Ted Wells

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Jonathan Martin

    Jonathan Martin suffered "significant emotional distress" at the hands of Richie Incognito and two other Miami Dolphins teammates, according to the final report by independent NFL investigator Ted Wells.

    "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," Wells said in the statement on the report, released Friday.

    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," Wells said.

    Martin, an offensive tackle, abruptly left the team in October. Incognito was suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team on Nov. 3.

    "The Report rejects any suggestion that Martin manufactured claims of abuse after the fact to cover up an impetuous decision to leave the team," Wells said in the statement.

    Shortly after the saga unfolded, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appointed Wells as special counsel to direct an independent investigation into issues of workplace conduct at the Dolphins.

    Dolphins owner Stephen Ross called the language that was used and the behavior described in the report "deeply disturbing."

    "Although the report commended Joe Philbin’s commitment to promoting integrity and accountability throughout the Dolphins organization, I told Ted Wells personally during my visit with him that we are committed to addressing the issues outlined in this report," Ross said in a statement. "We must work together towards a culture of civility and mutual respect for one another."

    The Dolphins are committed to a positive workplace environment where everyone is treated with respect, Ross said. The organization has reviewed its code of conduct and workplace policies and is making improvements in “sports psychology, human resources and player engagement functions which serve as safe outlets for any player or employee,” the owner said.

    According to the report, the assistant trainer, who isn't named, "repeatedly was the object of racial slurs and other racially derogatory language," Wells said.

    The other offensive lineman was also subjected to "homophobic name calling and improper physical touching," the report said.

    Pouncey, the Dolphins' first-round draft pick in 2011, was named to his first Pro Bowl this year. Jerry was drafted in the third round of the 2010 draft and has started in 45 games for the Dolphins over the past four seasons.

    The Dolphins cooperated in Wells' investigation, and every player and coach, key front office personnel and Ross were all interviewed by Wells, the report said.

    According to Wells' report, Martin had an "odd but seemingly close relationship" with Incognito that both of them described as "bipolar." The two enjoyed socializing and often communicated in "a vulgar matter," Wells wrote.

    Martin told Wells he suffered from depression in high school as a result of bullying and that it recurred as a result of his treatment by his Dolphins teammates, the report said.

    Martin even contemplated suicide on two occasions in 2013, the report said.

    According to the report, Incognito was the "main instigator" of the taunting.

    Incognito kept a notebook to keep track of fines the offensive linemen imposed on each other, which was mostly for infractions such as being late to practice, the report said.

    One of the infractions was against Incognito for "breaking Jmart," which Incognito said meant he caused Martin to have an emotional reaction to taunting, the report said.

    Shortly after Martin left the team, Incognito texted Pouncey and another teammate, saying "They're going to suspend me. Please destroy the fine book first thing in the morning," the report said.

    The attempt to destroy the book was unsuccessful, the report said.

    Incognito's attorney, Mark Schamel, slammed Wells' report in a 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," Schamel said. "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."

    Wells found the treatment of Martin and others with the organization "was offensive and unacceptable in any environment, including the world professional football players inhabit," the report said.

    "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," the NFL said in a statement.

    Ross announced in November that he was setting up a committee that would create a code of conduct for the Dolphins for the 21st century. It includes Don Shula, Dan Marino, Jason Taylor, Philbin and Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel.

    Now that Wells’ report is out, the committee can begin discussions, Ross said.