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Rudy
02-15-2014, 09:16 AM
I figured I would start a separate thread to post my detailed thoughts on this debacle and not clutter up the NFL thread.

I read the whole Ted Wells report on Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. It is interesting and is not as black and white as I thought it would be. There are a lot of interesting things. The report concludes that Richie Incognito and fellow teammates Mike Pouncey and John Jerry (IPJ for short) bullied Jonathan Martin which led to his leaving the team. Both Martin and Incognito confirmed many of the same stories while fully co-operating. The huge difference is the perception of that relationship. There were genuine texts of concern between Martin and Incognito. Martin admitted that he did like Richie at times but it’s also very clear that Richie crossed the line many times and was too dumb to realize it. Richie would refer to Martin as his little brother one minute and then drop barbs the next as part of their bipolar relationship. I do feel bad for Martin because I realize now this incident wasn’t a ploy or a lie. It was not done because he wanted to quit football or set up a lawsuit. He did get depressed by the treatment of his teammates and that is why this happened. It’s a shame this couldn’t have been fixed earlier before it escalated to this level.

Jonathan Martin has a history of being bullied going back to middle school and has self-esteem issues as a result. He is very sensitive and is very non-confrontational, never standing up for himself. He has also used drugs and alcohol that may have made this worse. It is very clear that IPJ crossed the line with constant barbs at Martin including over the line jokes about his sister and eventually his mother. But at no time did Martin ever tell them to stop. Rather, he hoped they would stop if he became one of them and so he participated in vulgar language and other things as a way of fitting in. This is considered standard bully victim stuff and explains why he texted or did some things that made it appear he enjoyed his time with them while truly feeling bad. The concept of trying to fit in by being one of them never worked and the bullies never understood how much it bothered Martin. It was bad case of guys going over the line and either not realizing it or not caring. Worse yet no teammates or coaches intervened to stop this behaviour.

Martin did feel Incognito was racist based on his use of the N word, the way he taunted the assistant trainer who was Japanese (made fun on Pearl Harbour day, called him Jap and Chinaman, etc) and other incidents. However, the report concluded that Incognito was not racist based on how his language was used with everyone regardless of colour or race. It’s just the way he is although Martin did not see it the same way. It does not excuse Incognito’s language and treatment of people but it also does not indicate he is a racist. Just an insensitive jerk in many ways.

The coach that would have known the most about this was OL coach Jim Turner. A lot of the barbs occurred away from the coaches and also away from the Dolphins at clubs and trips. Still, Turner was aware of some of it and did not see it as a big deal. Turner was the one guy that Martin told he was depressed back during May of 2013 (the start of his second year). Turner pressed him to see if he had suicidal thoughts due to his depression. Martin admitted this so Turner reported it to head coach Joe Philbin who called his parents and they arranged for some psychiatric help. So Turner did do him a good thing but Martin never admitted why he was depressed. They assumed it was due to his poor play. Unfortunately the Dolphins never followed up on the treatment and Martin eventually stopped seeing the doctor.

Martin never told any teammate (including his road roommate), any coach or his agent about how he felt. The report makes it clear that other Dolphins players were upset that Martin didn’t keep this “in house” after he left. It also makes it clear that if Martin had said something it would have been handled by Philbin who the report exonerates. But he never said anything to the people that could stop it. The fact coach Turner got him help in the first place was a good thing. The fact he didn’t see a problem here is a red flag and combined with the report stating that Turner lied or said he didn’t remember to a lot of other questions will probably get him fired.

The interesting part of the report that confirms Martin’s true feelings are the texts from Martin to his parents and especially his mom. They do show how depressed he is and reveal his true feelings about some of the things that are going on. He admits to his dad he’s been called Nigger and didn’t have the guts to say something. He admits to crying in a bath room because he doesn’t know how to respond to the taunts. Instead, as he usually did, he just laughed off everything or walked away. And that ends up making him feel worse because he feels guilty about laughing and not standing up for himself. So we do see how much it bothered him and yet IPJ were clueless about it and did not stop. The report goes on to say that two or three other Dolphins, specifically Nate Garner, got abused worse than Martin. The affected players dealt with it in different ways but Martin felt he was singled out, probably because of his past.

Richie Incognito still does not believe he did something wrong here. He himself has had mental issues and has a laundry list of inappropriate incidents that got him kicked off of two college football teams and cut by a few NFL teams. The former “Dirtiest Player in the NFL” has been on medication since 2009 to control his wild side but it is clear he needs a strong personality in the locker room to keep him in check. That person or coach did not exist in Miami. And with two willing participants in Pouncey and Jerry, Incognito’s treatment of his fellow teammates went beyond what is acceptable in most locker rooms despite the fact he may truly believe it wasn’t that bad and that he was Martin’s friend.

At the end of the day it was a perfect storm. We have a player in Jonathan Martin that was very sensitive and would not stand up for himself. He had a history of being bullied going back to middle school (never standing up for himself there either despite his size) that affected some of his thoughts at Miami as well. He did not know how to deal with the trio of Richie, Pouncey and Jerry who went over the line with their constant barbs and over the line jokes. While IPJ may have never intended to inflict this kind of harm on Martin they did. And there were not enough leaders on the team, particularly on the offensive line, to stand up to these guys and correct this issue. Hopefully this ugly episode will lead to more awareness across all sports and life so this doesn’t happen again.