Richie Incognito, the Miami Dolphins lineman who is suspended while the NFL investigates allegations of locker-room harassment involving Jonathan Martin, defended himself Sunday, telling Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer “I am not a racist.”
At the heart of the issue are voice mails and text messages that allegedly contain threats, profanities and racial slurs. Incognito contends that he and Martin, a second-year player who left the team because of emotional distress nearly two weeks ago, were close.
“You can ask anybody in the Miami Dolphins locker room who had Jon Martin’s back the absolute most and they will undoubtedly tell you, me,” Incognito said. “Jon never showed signs that football was getting to him, um, the locker room was getting to him.”
Incognito admitted leaving a particularly profane voice message in which he used the N-word and that the messages make him “sound like a racist pig,” like “a meathead.”
“When I see that voicemail, when I see those words come up across the screen, I’m embarrassed by it. I’m embarrassed by my actions,” Incognito said. “But what I want people to know is, the way Jonathan and the rest of the offensive line and how our teammates, how we communicate, it’s vulgar. It’s, it’s not right. When the words are put in the context, I understand why a lot of eyebrows get raised, but people don’t know how Jon and I communicate to one another.”
Glazer, who was worked with Incognito on mixed martial arts training, asked how Incognito could expect anyone to believe he isn’t a racist.
“I’m not a racist. And to judge me by that one word is wrong,” Incognito said. “In no way, shape or form is it ever acceptable for me to use that word, even if it’s friend to friend on a voicemail. I regret that.”
Incognito allowed Glazer to print out 1,142 text messages between the men and Incognito said that Martin had texted him with a profanity and a threat.
“A week before this went down, Jonathan Martin texted me, ‘I will murder your whole [expletive] family,” Incognito said. “Now did I think Jonathan Martin was going to murder my family? Not one bit.”
David Cornwell, the lawyer Martin has hired to represent him, tweeted a copy of that text (see it here) message, which contains a photo and an internet meme. Incognito said he had been in touch with Martin late last week.
“I texted with him, I text messaged, I spoke with him through text message. And he texted me and said, ‘I don’t blame you guys. I blame some stuff in the locker room. I blame the culture. I blame what was going on around me.’ And when all this stuff got going and swirling, bullying got attached to it and my name got attached to it,” Incognito said. “I just texted him as a friend and was like, ‘What’s up with this, man?’ He said, ‘It’s not coming from me. I haven’t said anything to anybody.’ And I’m like, ‘OK.’
There’s more, much more, and Fox has the full transcript of the interview here.