For Martin, who played in college at Stanford and in the pros for the Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers, his issues date from when he was a kid. He writes that he never felt like he fit in, that he never felt “black enough” while attending private schools in California. Football didn’t help lessen the pain or provide camaraderie.
“Your talent and accomplishments on the field never seem to be able to overcome the demons that you carry with you from your middle school and high school experience,” he wrote on Twitter and Facebook. “You’re always inadequate, always the ‘p—-,’ the ‘weird kid who acts white.’
“You overcompensate, create a persona separate from who you really are, use it as motivation to gain respect from playing a game. make a fool of yourself at times. Anything in the quest to one day feel ‘cool.’ You see football as the only thing you are good at your only avenue to make the shy, depressed, weird kid from high school ‘cool.’ To the outside world, many assume you to be somewhat egotistical, womanizing, over-the-top, a typical football player.
“Years later, your time in the NFL is a wake-up call.”
Things don’t improve for that kid when he gets to the NFL, where an NFL investigation determined that the locker-room culture in Miami was filled with examples of harassment, racism, bullying, homophobia and an overall culture of intolerance. The investigation by Ted Wells found that Dolphins player Richie Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey contributed to a “pattern of harassment” directed at Martin as well as another young Dolphins offensive lineman and a member of the team’s training staff.
Martin left the team and later landed in San Francisco. Incognito now plays for the Buffalo Bills, Jerry is with the New York Giants and Pouncey remains in Miami. Now, he’s opening up about his feelings.
“You realize who truly has had your back,” he wrote. “Who the people are who you need to embrace. And cherish every moment you have with them. You let your demons go, knowing that, perhaps, sharing your story can help some other chubby, goofy, socially isolated sensitive kid getting bullied in America who feels like no one in the world cares about them.
“And let them know you’re not alone.”