MIAMI, Fla. — After months of investigation conducted by attorney Ted Wells, the report detailing the bullying scandal involving Miami Dolphins offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito was officially released on Friday.
The situation first came to light in November when Martin decided to leave the Dolphins, and Incognito was subsequently suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.
Wells, who is the co-chair of the litigation department at the Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison law firm, conducted interviews with Dolphins players coaches and front office personnel, and he came to the conclusion that Martin’s decision to leave the team was appropriate considering the harassment he endured.
According to the official press release for Wells’ report, Dolphins offensive linemen John Jerry and Mike Pouncey were culprits along with Incognito, and an unnamed second Dolphins offensive lineman was harassed in addition to Martin:
“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,” the release states. “The Report finds that the assistant trainer repeatedly was the object of racial slurs and other racially derogatory language; that the other offensive lineman was subjected to homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching; and that 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.”
Incognito has been defiant recently regarding his role in Martin’s decision to leave the team. In a tweet on Wednesday, he accused Martin of fabrication on Twitter this week.
Despite that, Wells wrote in his report that Martin’s emotional distress was legitimate, and that Incognito was among the primary driving forces behind it.
“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 wrote. “Contemporaneous text messages that Martin sent to his parents and others months before he left the Dolphins — which have never before been made public — corroborate his account that the persistent harassment by his teammates caused him significant emotional distress.
“The Report concludes that the harassment by Martin’s teammates was a contributing factor in his decision to leave the team, but also finds that Martin’s teammates did not intend to drive Martin from the team or cause him lasting emotional injury.”
Martin’s status as a victim came into question after the release of text messages exchanged between he and Incognito. Martin engaged in banter with Incognito, but Martin admitted to Wells that he did so as a defense mechanism.
“Although Martin claimed that he occasionally asked Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey to stop making crude remarks about his mother and sister, Martin acknowledged that he typically did not challenge language he found hurtful,” Wells wrote. “Instead, he often turned or walked away or attempted to use body language to convey his disapproval, or just tried to laugh it off.
“Martin also asserted that he befriended Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey in an effort to reduce their abuse and that he sometimes participated in their vulgar banter in an effort to fit in.”
Wells concluded his report by suggesting that the Dolphins and the NFL institute new mandates to ensure that such a situation doesn’t arise again.
“As all must surely recognize, the NFL is not an ordinary workplace,” Wells wrote. “But even the largest, strongest and fleetest person may be driven to despair by bullying, taunting and constant insults. We encourage the creation of new workplace conduct rules and guidelines that will help ensure that players respect each other as professionals and people.”