An NFL Investigation into claims of bullying in the Miami Dolphins locker room, orchestrated by Richie Incognito, has confirmed that Incognito and three other starters were involved in a “pattern of harassment” against Jonathan Martin. The Martin – Incognito bullying report was published today.
The independent investigation, headed by attorney Ted Wells, found that Incognito, as well as guard John Jerry and center Mike Pouncey were systematically “engaged in a pattern of harassment directed” at Martin in addition to another unnamed young offensive lineman and an assistant trainer.
According to the report, Martin was subjected to persistent harassing language, the harassment humiliated Martin and contributed to his mental health issues, and the mistreatment of Martin was consistent with a case of workplace bullying.
However, it also concluded that Martin never reported this to the Dolphins organisation, in spite of claims by Martin to the contrary, and that head coach Joe Philbin or other front office staff were not aware of the harassment.
The report largely vindicates Martin, and confirms the bulk of his claims, but stops short of accepting his claims outright. It found that several claims were overstated, including claims that there was a “Malicious personal attack” against Martin during a Christmas party. It was was unclear about the extent to which a racial component played a real part in the bullying.
While it acknowledged that racial language was certainly used, it declined to comment as to whether the bullying was truly racially motivated, and acknowledged that within the context of their relationship that the explicit and derogatory racial language was not necessarily part of the pattern of bullying. The report confirmed that Martin may have implicitly or explicitly given Incognito permission to use certain racial terms within the context of their friendship.
As indicated by the recently leaked messages, (warning: extremely explicit content), the two were seemingly close at times, and exchanged a great deal of banter.
However, the report was clear that while the two appeared to have an “odd but seemingly close” friendship, neither this nor the culture of the NFL Locker room or among linemen did was an excuse for the pattern of bullying which followed.
This report, along the series of tweets by Incognito all but ends any possibility of his return to the NFL this season, if ever. Incognito will need to go a long way to prove he is a changed man before any team will consider bringing him into an NFL locker room.