Jonathan Martin felt increasingly isolated and “trapped” because of alleged bullying by Richie Incognito and chose to leave the Miami Dolphins last fall because he felt the attacks were both “racial” and “personal.”
In his first interview since leaving the team, Martin described his feelings to NBC’s Tony Dungy. His decision to leave and go into seclusion Oct. 28 triggered a national debate on NFL locker-room culture and the line between team-building and bullying. In the wake of the allegations, Incognito was suspended by the Dolphins and the NFL appointed a special investigator whose report is due after the Super Bowl. Previously, Martin had spoken through lawyer David Cornwell.
“I’m a man. I’m a grown man. I’ve been in locker rooms. There’s vulgar language in locker rooms,” Martin told Dungy. “One instance doesn’t bother me. It’s the persistence of it. I wish I would have had more tools to solve my situation . . . but I felt trapped, like I didn’t have a way to make it right. And it came down to the point where, you know, I thought it was best just to remove myself from the situation.”
Martin felt that there was more than just the usual hazing that almost all young NFL endure and said he tried his best to fit in, exchanging text messages with Incognito that seemed to show a friendship. “I have no problem with the normal hazing that you see in the NFL, get a haircut, stuff like that, little pranks,” said Martin, who hopes to play again in the NFL. “But of a personal, attacking nature, I don’t think there’s any place for that.”
Martin, 24, is an offensive lineman who was a second-round draft pick out of Stanford. His former Cardinal teammtes, including Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener and David DeCastro all spoke out in his defense.
“There was persistent comments of a racial nature, aggressive sexual comments related to my sister and my mother,” Martin told Dungy. “I’ve spoken to my former teammates in other locker rooms across the NFL and I asked them, ‘Does this stuff go on? Is this normal rookie hazing?’ The consensus was, this is not normal.”
The full interview will be shown on NBCSN’s “Pro Football Talk” at 6:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday.