Stanford teammates rally around Jonathan Martin in wake of Richie Incognito scandal

November 7, 2013
Richie Incognito (left) and Jonathan Martin. (Lynne Sladky / AP)
Richie Incognito (left) and Jonathan Martin. (Lynne Sladky / AP)

Jonathan Martin hasn’t spoken publicly about what happened between him and Richie Incognito in Miami, but his father, former teammates and coach at Stanford have.

Martin left the Miami Dolphins last week after a number of alleged incidents of harassment involving his offensive-line teammate, Incognito. The NFL is investigating the situation and Dolphins teammates defended Incognito on Wednesday, but the other side of the story — Martin’s side — has yet to emerge.

His father, Gus, told Yahoo that the family preferred not to speak until after the NFL investigation is complete, but did say of his son: “He’s a strong man. He’s doing fine.”

Three of Martin’s former Stanford teammates who now play in the NFL were squarely behind him Wednesday, with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck saying “I love Jon like a brother” and Colts tight end Coby Fleener disputing the very notion that Martin needed to “toughen up.” A Sun Sentinel report Wednesday indicated that Incognito had been asked to toughen him up and had taken it too far, with verbal abuse and racial slurs.

All three Stanford guys said they’d spoken to Martin, who is believed to be in California with his family. However, they offered few details about a college teammate for whom they had great affection in an ESPN Magazine video interview before the 2012 draft. (Watch it here.)

“We get along very, very well and I don’t want to comment on that beyond that,” Luck said (via ESPN). ” … We had a lot of fun — a lot of good times — together at Stanford.  It’s obviously an incredibly unfortunate situation. But out of respect for him and what’s going on, I’d rather not talk about it.”

Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro, an offensive line teammate at Stanford,  said he “just called him to make sure he was all right.”

Fleener confirmed an earlier report that Martin isn’t done with football. “For anybody to think that he’s walking away from the game that he loves is inaccurate,” he said (via Phillip B. Wilson). And Fleener bristled at any notion that Martin needed to “toughen up.” “I think that’s a stupid, stupid statement. If somebody wants to dispute that, I’d be happy to talk to them.”

They weren’t the only ones wondering how Martin, a 24-year-old known as “Moose” and seemingly aware enough to know about the psych ops NFL players all too often employ, ended up in this spot.

Vic Eumont, Martin’s coach at Harvard-Westlake High School in California told the Palm Beach Post that Martin was a perfect target for verbal abuse and bullying.

“He always wanted to make everybody happy and make friends and not be a problem,” Eumont, who said he has not spoken to Martin since he left the Dolphins, said. “All of his teachers loved him. All of his teammates loved him. His nickname was Moose and he was happy to have that. He was always ‘yes or no sir,’ do whatever you ask him to do. I can see where somebody that’s a bully will take advantage of him, and rather than him say anything would just hold it inside.

“I can see where if somebody was bullying him he would take that to heart, and be concerned and think it was his fault.”

Stanford Coach David Shaw told the San Jose Mercury-News that the school does “a pretty good job of educating our guys on what that next level is like, both the locker room and on the field and in the world. We’re talkingabout something that, as more comes out, we’re finding out this is not just Jon being oversensitive, this is Jonathan being the first person to speak out about what’s been going on.”

The Dolphins, particularly quarterback Ryan Tannehill, vigorously defended Incognito, who was described as being a leader and close to Martin. And the NFL’s investigation continues.

“Before he wasn’t around Nebraska [Incognito's college], LSU kind of guys. He’s always been around Stanford, Duke, Rice kind of players,” Eumont said. “In locker rooms full of Nebraska, LSU, Southern Cal players, Miami players, they’ll look at this as a weakness. If he makes it through all this, and if he was encouraged to come back, he’d come back with a vengeance.”

Bottom line on Martin, whom Eumont said passed up a chance to attend Harvard (where he would have made his family the first four-generation African-American family to attend the school, Eumont said) in order to play football at Stanford:

“I think he’s a guy the Dolphins should work to get back in the fold,” Eumont said. “I think he can be an excellent player. He’s a great kid. He’s worth saving. If ever there’s a kid worth saving, he’s one of them.”

 

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Cindy Boren · November 7, 2013