Highlights, observations and details from Ted Wells’ report on the Dolphins' locker-room scandal, which was released this afternoon:
### There are no winners here, but Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland came out unscathed, at least by Wells' estimations. Key point: Martin said he never told any Dolphins official (coach or front office person) that he was harrassed. But even if Wells doesn't make Philbin culpable, he clearly bears responsibility for being igorant to what was happening around him --- players simulating sex acts before practice, his assistant coach taunting a player, etc.
### Big losers, besides Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin? Offensive line coach Jim Turner, who contributed to the teasing of Andrew McDonald by giving him a male blow-up dolls, among others things. (More on that in a minute.) Turner deserves to be dismissed, even beyond the offensive line’s poor play.
### Other losers: John Jerry and Mike Pouncey, who joined Incognito in calling Martin a “fag---,” a “cu---,” a “pus---“ and other, shall we say, less than endearing terms.
Wells said Jerry, Pouncey and Incognito “made graphic, sexually explicit comments about about Martin’s sister, would call her a “squirter” and then squirt water on the field from water bottles.
During pre-game stretching, the three players would simulate having sex with Martin’s sister. (My aside: Coaches never saw this? Never found this odd? Are you kidding?)
Martin traced the onset of what he considered to be verbal harassment to around the first game of the 2012 season, when, according to Martin, Jerry began to call him a “bitch” repeatedly, in what Martin said was a disrespectful and demeaning tone.
Martin reported that at one point, Jerry dared him to “say something back,” and soon after he did not, the insults escalated, with Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey routinely calling him a “bitch” as well as other terms mentioned above. Martin said that, in keeping with his reserved nature, he generally was reluctant to respond aggressively.
Jerry was the worst offender with respect to his sister, because once Jerry got started he often kept going incessantly. Martin also claimed that Jerry (more than others) frequently made such insults in front of teammates from other units, including in the showers and in the team cafeteria; Martin viewed this as a calculated effort by Jerry to embarrass him.
### On Nov. 1, when reports started surfacing that Incognito might have harrassed Martin, Incognito and Pouncey exchanged these texts:
Incognito: "F--- Jmart That faggot is never [allowed] back."
Pouncey: "Bro I said the same thing I can’t even look at him the same he’s a pus--."
Incognito: "My agent just asked if we held mandatory strip club meetings Jmart is fu--ing ratting on everyone."
Pouncey: "Lol wow are you serious he is a f--k boy"
Pouncey: "He’s not welcome back bro I can’t be around that f---ing guy"
Incognito: F--k that guy if Ur not with [u]s Ur against us."
Pouncey: "No question bro he’s a coward for snitching."
Incognito: "Snitches get stitches Blood in blood out F--king guy."
Pouncey: "He’s dead to me."
### According to Martin, the mistreatment by his teammates and his inability to make them stop the insults drove him into depression and led him to contemplate suicide on two occasions in 2013. Martin noted that in his four preceding years at Stanford, before he arrived at the Dolphins, he had no significant issues with depression.
### Wells include correspondence between Martin and his parents, which provide insight:
On April 22, 2013, Martin wrote to his mother:
"I figured out a major source of my anxiety. I’m a push over, a people pleaser. I avoid confrontation whenever I can, I always want everyone to like me. I let people talk about me, say anything to my face, and I just take it, laugh it off, even when I know they are intentionally trying to disrespect me. I mostly blame the soft schools I went to, which fostered within me a feeling that I’m a huge pussy, as I never got into fights. I used to get verbally bullied every day in middle school and high school, by kids that are half my size. I would never fight back, just get sad & feel like no one wanted to be my friend, when in fact I was just being socially awkward. Most people in that situation are witty & quick with sarcastic replies, I never have been. I’m awkward around people a lot of the time because I simply don’t know how to act around them . . .
"I care about my legacy as a professional athlete. But I’m miserable currently. A therapist & medication won’t help me gain the respect of my teammates. I really don’t know what to do, Mom."
### On April 29, 2013, Martin sent the following message to his father, which included a reference to the dinner in Fort Lauderdale where Martin says Incognito had called him a “nig-” and a complaint about insults concerning his sister:
"People call me a “Nig-“ to my face. Happened 2 days ago. And I laughed it off. Because I am too nice of a person. They say terrible things about my sister. I don’t do anything. I suppose it’s white private school conditioning, turning the other cheek.”
Martin’s father responded:
“They think nig-- is okay because black people use it. Tell them you don’t use it and it is never okey and if they do it again then they can kiss your black ass. Likewise say that your sister is a Madonna. If they say it again they can kiss your ass. If they do say either again then just stare at them give them and give them your finger."
### On May 5, after feeling humiliated by Incognito and Pouncey during a yacht trip, Martin sent his mother these messages: “I’m never gonna change. I got punked again today. Like a little bitch. And I never do anything about it. I was sobbing in a rented yacht bathroom earlier.”
### Wells said: “We are not, however, in a position to evaluate Martin’s assertion that the abusive conduct of his teammates was, in fact, the exclusive triggering cause of his depression and contemplation of suicide. We lack the factual information necessary to conduct a comprehensive analysis of Martin’s mental health issues and their root causes.
"In addition, we advised Martin’s counsel that, given Martin’s ongoing mental health counseling and the NFL’s intention to make this Report public within a few months, it was not practical for us to try to unravel the specific triggering causes of Martin’s onset of depression and suicidal thoughts.
“Nevertheless, we also saw evidence that Martin was troubled not only by the harassment from his teammates, but also by other issues, including concerns about his on-field performance.
“In a number of ways, Martin fits the mold of a typical bullying victim: hesitant to challenge others, perhaps socially awkward (at least in his own eyes) and different from the others because of his upper-middle-class upbringing and intellectual interests. He responded to abuse by blaming and distrusting himself, falling into what appears to have been serious depression. He did not report the harassment because he feared that doing so would further ostracize him from the offensive line group.”
### There are a lot of details about harassment of former Dolphins offensive lineman Andrew McDonald, whose name was not identified in Wells’ report but was mentioned in a version circulated by Incognito’s attorney.
Wells writes: “Like Martin, he is quiet and unassuming. During his time with the team, Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey frequently taunted Player A with homophobic insults. He often was called a “fag” or a “faggot” in a demeaning tone."
Incognito reportedly accused him of “sucking d---” and “pissing while sitting down” and asked him “where’s your boyfriend?”
Incognito acknowledged that McDonald, although not actually believed to be gay, was spoken to in this manner repeatedly and persistently—he got it “every day from everybody, high frequency.”
In addition, Incognito and others acknowledged that McDonald was routinely touched by Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey in a mockingly suggestive manner, including on his rear end, while being taunted about his supposed homosexuality. Incognito specifically admitted that he would grab him and ask for a hug as part of this “joke.”
Martin said that on one particularly disturbing occasion, Pouncey physically restrained Player A, and, in full view of other players, jokingly told Jerry to “come get some pus---,” and that Jerry responded by touching Player A’s buttocks in a way that simulated anal penetration. Jerry and Pouncey both denied this allegation.
### Back to Turner, the o-line coach. Wells said Turner was aware of the running “joke” that McDonald was gay, and on at least one occasion, he participated in the taunting. Around Christmas 2012, Coach Turner gave the offensive linemen gift bags that included a variety of stocking stuffers. The gifts included inflatable female dolls for all of the offensive linemen except McDonald, who received a male “blow-up” doll.
Martin and another player reported that they were surprised Coach Turner did this; Martin further said that he was offended that Turner had endorsed the humiliating treatment of McDonald by participating in it. Incognito and others agreed that this incident with Coach Turner occurred. When interviewed, Turner was asked if he gave McDonald a male blow-up doll. He replied, “I can’t remember.”
Wells' reaction? "We do not believe that Turner forgot this incident, which many others recalled."
Martin claimed that both of his offensive line coaches, Turner and Chris Mosley (who resigned during the season), overheard some of the raunchy comments about his sister, in the offensive line room or on the practice field. Incognito does not dispute these assertions. According to both Martin and Incognito, Turner neither joined nor criticized the harsh language. Also, both Martin and Incognito said they thought Turner was a good coach.
Turner denied witnessing or overhearing any inappropriate treatment of Martin by his teammates, but Mosley admitted overhearing the crude joking about Martin’s sister. Mosley specifically recalled a two-week period during which Martin’s teammates constantly made such comments. Martin also asserted that, on occasion, Mosley participated in such insults; Mosley denied this.
Wells said: “We find that Turner knew that [McDonald] was taunted for supposed homosexuality. According to Incognito, such comments were made with high frequency. Turner denied hearing them, but because he gave Player A a male blow-up doll for Christmas (while giving the rest of the linemen female dolls), we do not find his denial credible."
“Based on the entire record, we find that Coaches Turner and Mosley were certainly aware of some of the insulting comments directed to Martin by Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey, although we cannot determine the full extent of that awareness and whether they had any appreciation."
### Turner was implicated in other ways, too. During film review, if Turner criticized a lineman for missing an assignment, and that lineman pointed out that one of his teammates was actually at fault, that lineman might be labeled a “Judas,” which could result in a fellow player imposing a fine.
Multiple Dolphins offensive linemen were familiar with the “Judas” concept and told Wells that Turner had discussed it with them. Turner, however, denied knowing what the term “Judas” meant in the context of the Dolphins offensive line. In fact, he denied ever hearing the term “Judas” or “Judas fine” used in the offensive line room. He also denied lecturing players on its meaning.
“We do not credit Turner’s denials,” Wells said. “The evidence shows that Turner was aware of the “Judas” concept and that he had discussed its meaning with the linemen, explaining how Judas had betrayed Jesus Christ and defining Judas as a “snitch.”
Also, Chris Mosley, the Dolphins former assistant offensive line coach, claimed that Turner actually introduced the Judas concept to the offensive linemen.”
### And if that’s not enough ammunition to dismiss Turner, there’s this:
“On November 2, shortly after Martin left the Dolphins, Coach Turner began sending him text messages urging him to defend Incognito in a public statement. Martin responded to one, but then stopped communicating with Turner, who continued to pressure him to “DO THE RIGHT THING” for several days afterward, as shown below.
November 2, 2013:
Turner: Richie incognito is getting hammered on national TV. This is not right. You could put an end to all the rumors with a simple statement. DO THE RIGHT THING. NOW.
Martin: Coach. I want to put out a statement. Believe me I do. This thing has become such a huge story somehow. But I’ve been advised not to... And I’m not supposed to text anyone either cuz last time I responded to a teammate (Richie) I was intentionally manipulated and the conversation was immediately forwarded to a reporter.
Turner: He is protecting himself. He has been beat up for 4 days. Put an end to this. You are a grown man. Do the right thing.
Turner: John I want the best for you and your health but make a statement and take the heat off Richie and the lockerroom. This isn’t right.
November 3, 2013:
Turner: I know you are a man of character. Where is it?
November 6, 2013:
Turner: It is never to late to do the right thing!
Wells notes that “when he sent these messages, Turner knew that Martin had left the team unexpectedly, had hospitalized himself in connection with a mental health condition and that Martin had previously struggled with serious psychological problems and had contemplated suicide.
"We accept that Turner may have believed in good faith that Incognito was being unfairly attacked by the media, but he should have realized that it was inappropriate to send such text messages to an emotionally troubled player. We find that these text messages to Martin demonstrated poor judgment on Coach Turner’s part."
### Wells said “we found that the Dolphins assistant trainer [believed to be Naohisa Inoue], who was born in Japan, was the target of frequent and persistent harassment, including insults relating to his race and national origin.
“Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey admitted that they directed racially derogatory words toward him, including “Jap” and “Chinaman.”
At times, according to Martin, they referred to the Assistant Trainer as a “dirty communist” or a “North Korean,” made demands such as “give me some water you f--- chink,” spoke to him in a phony, mocking Asian accent, including asking for “rubby rubby sucky sucky,” and called his mother a “rub and tug masseuse.”
Wells said: "Martin and others informed us that Incognito and Jerry taunted the Assistant Trainer with jokes about having sex with his girlfriend. Incognito admitted that these types of comments were made to the Assistant Trainer."
### On December 7, 2012, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey donned traditional Japanese headbands that featured a rising sun emblem (which the Assistant Trainer had given them) and jokingly threatened to harm the Assistant Trainer physically in retaliation for the Pearl Harbor attack. According to Martin, the Assistant Trainer confided in him that he was upset about the Pearl Harbor comments, finding them derogatory toward his heritage.
Well said “Martin and another player we interviewed both believed that the Assistant Trainer awkwardly laughed along with some of the racial insults.
"When interviewed about these matters, the Assistant Trainer initially pleaded that he not be required to answer certain questions, implying that he could not be forthright because he was concerned about losing the trust of the players. The Assistant Trainer further claimed that Incognito was his friend and asserted that Incognito had never offended him. He told us that he could not recall if Incognito had called him a “Chinaman” or a “Jap,” and refused to answer the question whether Incognito had said anything about his girlfriend, saying that the inquiry made him “very uncomfortable.”
Wells added: “We did not find the Assistant Trainer’s denials believable” because hours after Martin left the team on October 28, the Assistant Trainer sent him a text message indicating that he had indeed been personally offended by the insults directed at him by Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey: “Hey JM I understand how [y]ou feel man… They are relentless sometime…. Some day I wanna do exactly what you did today.”
Wells said: “The ceaseless racial ridicule directed at the Assistant Trainer was appalling and plainly over the line in any workplace.”
### Wells said Martin said he was mocked throughout the day (Oct. 28) that he threw the cafeteria tray down and left the team facility for good. He claimed that in a meeting room early in the day, he heard taunts from Incognito that included “stinky Pakistani,” which made him “almost fed up.”
Later, when Martin arrived in the cafeteria for dinner around 6 pm, most of the offensive linemen, including Incognito, were already sitting together at a table. The evidence shows that while Martin was waiting in line for food, Incognito called out to him from the table, saying that Martin was a “stinky Pakistani” who should not join the group.
According to Martin, a fellow player standing near him in line overheard the comment and said “get them off your back.” Martin said that this episode further demonstrated to that these are real factors, not issues Incognito has manufactured out of whole cloth.
### Well said Martin experience “mental health problems going back to high school, and he has struggled with issues of self-confidence, self-image and social integration since that time. In particular, Martin’s passive responses to the conduct of Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey painfully reminded him of his failures to challenge bullies in his youth, and he may have been particularly sensitive to insults. In addition, Incognito alleged that Martin at times abused alcohol and recreational drugs particularly after bad games.”
Incognito pointed out, for example, that following a poor performance in the Dolphins’ October 6, 2013 game against the Baltimore Ravens, Martin got extremely intoxicated and missed a morning weightlifting session. Martin admitted that Incognito’s account of this incident was accurate."
### Jim Harbaugh, Martin’s former head coach at Stanford and the current head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, told us that he had never doubted Martin’s tenacity, work ethic and dedication to the game, and that he had never seen Martin exhibit problems with social adjustment. Coach Harbaugh told us he believed that Martin likely could continue to have a successful career in the NFL.”
### A key point from Wells: “Although we find that Martin left the team due in part to the verbal abuse directed at him, we also find that Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey did not intend to cause Martin to leave the Dolphins or inflict lasting emotional injury.
"Martin was a starting tackle on the Dolphins offensive line, so inducing him to leave the team would be harmful to his teammates’ competitive prospects, and they undoubtedly wanted to win. Plainly, Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey intended to get under Martin’s skin, and they certainly appear to have been insensitive to the significant emotional pain they were causing. But we do not believe that they deliberately were trying to goad Martin into taking drastic action, such as leaving the team.”
### Remember that text exchange between Martin and Incognito after he left, when Martin texted Incognito: “Yeah I’m good man. It’s insane bro but just know I don’t blame you guys at all it’s just the culture around football and the locker room got to me a little.”
Well said he confronted Martin with these text messages, noting that his “I don’t blame you guys at all” statement seemed to undercut his core allegation that he felt abused by his teammates.
Martin responded "that when he sent these messages to Incognito, he truly believed that Incognito was one of the players who had driven him from the team, but at the time, he blamed himself for leaving, feeling that he was simply too sensitive and that he was at fault for not stopping the abusive behavior. Martin told us, too, that he has received counseling since that time and has come to the view that he should not feel guilty or blame himself if ridiculed."
Wells consulted with a doctor, William Berman, who told Wells that “Martin’s outwardly conciliatory responses are consistent with the reaction of a victim of abusive conduct and cautioned that these responses should not lead to the conclusion that Martin has fabricated allegations of harassment. In fact, according to Dr. Berman, blaming one’s self for being too sensitive and not stopping abuse is often a manifestation of depression.”
### Martin told Wells that he believes that Incognito harassed him in part because Incognito was motivated by racial animus. Incognito claimed that he was never so motivated and that his language must be evaluated in the context of his unique friendship with Martin.
Wells said: “We find the evidence on this question ambiguous and conflicting, and we decline to make a finding either way. But the issue of whether Incognito’s ultimate motivation for his persistent harassment of Martin was in part racial animus is complicated by the fact that John Jerry (who is black) and Mike Pouncey (who is bi-racial) often joined Incognito in the abusive behavior."
### In an April 6 voice mail, Incognito referred to Martin as a “half-nig-- piece of sh--” in his April 6, 2013 voicemail, and Martin says Incognito called him a “nig--r” on at least one other occasion.
And it is undisputed that Incognito routinely used other racially derogatory language (including, for example, “mulatto,” “dirty Pakistani” and “darkness” to Martin, and “Chinaman” and “Jap” to the Assistant Trainer).
More Wells: “Incognito also argued that Martin did not communicate to him that he was offended by racially charged statements, and this assertion, for the most part, appears to be accurate; Martin conceded that he typically “laughed off” or ignored such remarks, even when he was deeply offended.
“Incognito’s use of this epithet to Martin appears to have been sporadic; Martin recalled only two such occasions, and the factual record does not suggest otherwise. We also found it relevant that Incognito established what appear to be close friendships with black teammates, and that many of them passionately defended Incognito in the wake of his suspension—in media reports and in our interviews—even after it had become well-known that Incognito had addressed Martin as a “half-nig- piece of sh--.”
### Wells found it significant that Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey subjected a number of other linemen to harsh treatment. Most are black, but at least one is white (Nate Garner). Indeed, many players thought Garner was treated the worst. This suggests that Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey were equal-opportunity harassers.
“Further complicating this issue are reports (from both Incognito and Martin) that Jerry and Pouncey on occasion accused Martin of not acting “black enough”—statements that seem to reflect a problematic attitude toward racial identity and socio-economic differences and that reinforce crude racial stereotypes (although they do not seem to demonstrate racial animus)."
### Wells said Incognito and most of the other offensive linemen claimed "that the treatment of Martin and others was all in good fun, part of everyday joking and brotherly bonding that was a known and accepted part of life on the Dolphins, at least on the offensive line. A few offensive linemen, however, said that Martin was bothered, especially by the taunts about his sister, and did not view them as part of good fun."
“Here,” Wells writes, “ we credit the minority view rather than the majority opinion and find it a more accurate.”
### One of the photos shared with the group by text message shows Incognito, surrounded by other laughing linemen (including Martin), holding his penis near the ear of a sleeping or unconscious teammate. Another photo, taken by Incognito and also circulated to the group, features Incognito’s own excrement.
Wells said: "In an environment where this sort of outlandish behavior was commonplace, Incognito argues, virtually nothing was off limits, and trying to label particular insulting comments as improper is impossible and unfair."
### Incognito conceded that he could tell that participating in demeaning banter “wasn’t [Martin’s] cup of tea” and that Martin sometimes responded to verbal onslaughts by saying nothing more than “f--- you.”
Wells' reaction to that: "By Incognito’s account, Martin responded in this manner, rather than with more creative retorts, because he had not grown up “talking sh--” and was not as “witty” as Incognito, Jerry or Pouncey. For these reasons, it is easy to conclude that Martin was being pressured to play a game that he did not really want to join, with rules that were foreign to him. Indeed, on May 6, 2013, Martin wrote in a text message to a friend: “I am unable to socialize with my teammates in their crude manner.”
### In fact, according to Incognito, he was one of Martin’s greatest protectors on the team. Many Dolphins players reported that Incognito and Martin seemed inseparable; some said they viewed Martin as Incognito’s little brother. Incognito called Martin his “road dog,” claiming that Martin willingly and frequently wanted to “hang out” with him at restaurants, bars and other nightclubs, at all hours of the day or night.
Incognito points out that Martin never let on that he felt harassed, and asserts that if he had known that his behavior seriously troubled Martin, the conduct immediately would have stopped.
### Incognito says that Martin’s entire story of alleged harassment is inconsistent with their close personal relationship—which was so close, in fact, that Martin felt comfortable revealing to Incognito details of his struggle with mental health issues and his contemplation of suicide.
In doing so, however, Incognito claimed, Martin never suggested his troubles related to his treatment by his teammates—a fact that Martin did not dispute, Wells writes. Incognito also emphasized that he cared so much about Martin and his career that he counseled him not to engage in recreational drug use out of concern that it would undermine his performance on the field.
### Martin explained that he deliberately cultivated a friendship with Incognito in part to gain acceptance on the offensive line as well as to reduce the insults streaming his way. Martin claimed that there was a “good Richie”—his friend—and also a “bad Richie”—his abuser. Plainly, their “bipolar” friendship was complicated.
Wells said: “As a general rule, Martin said, Incognito was friendlier and less aggressive in one-on-one encounters. Ultimately, we conclude that the “bad Richie” did in fact verbally harass Martin, and the acts of kindness and friendship by the “good Richie” do not excuse the abusive conduct.”
### At the beginning of the 2013 season, the Dolphins offensive linemen began to impose fines on each other for a variety of trivial and often sophomoric offenses, such as farting, arriving late for meetings, failing to provide candy, having “stinky dreads” or wearing “ugly ass shoes.”
Wells notes such “kangaroo courts” are not uncommon in professional sports. Incognito and Pouncey, the leaders on the line, determined many of the fines, but other linemen also assessed penalties. The fines, which were recorded (often by Incognito) in a spiral notebook known as the “fine book,” generally ranged from $10 to $500.
The money was paid to Tyson Clabo, an offensive tackle who served as the line’s “treasurer.” Clabo kept the accrued paid “fines,” which by November 2013as the line’s “treasurer.” Clabo kept the accrued paid “fines,” which by November 2013 amounted to approximately $35,000, in his locker, saving the money to fund a post-season vacation trip for the group.
Wells said "after the fine system was established, Incognito and other linemen told Martin that he had been assessed a $10,000 fine for not attending a group trip to Las Vegas in January 2013. Martin repeatedly was told that he was required to pay this fine, and he eventually did, by check. Incognito and others said during their interviews that they were obviously joking when they told Martin he had to pay this amount and claimed they never thought Martin would actually pay the $10,000, which was by far the highest fine paid.
"Martin reported that he paid the money because he did not believe his teammates were kidding with him and that he felt coerced into paying. In contrast, Jerry, who also did not attend the Las Vegas trip, told us that when some of the linemen tried to fine him $10,000 for refusing to join the trip, he responded, “f- no,” and never paid."
### Wells said "Incognito told us that he and other offensive linemen routinely speculated, albeit in jest, about which of their teammates would “break first” in response to taunting, and notations in the fine book substantiate this. One lineman, Nate Garner, was subjected to so much derision that a joke developed that Garner, who owned several guns, might “break” by coming to the Dolphins facility and shooting everyone.
" On September 30, 2013, for example, Incognito wrote a text message to a former teammate in which he stated: “Nate is on the verge of killing us all.” When asked to elaborate, Incognito explained: “Since we cut [another player] we have been non stop on nate. Even turner is in on it. He looks like he’s about to cry 24/7.”
### In the hours after Martin left the Dolphins, Incognito recorded in the fine book a $200 penalty against himself for “breaking Jmart,” awarded Garner a $250 bonus for “not cracking first,” and wrote down the following fines for Martin:
100 [derogatory terms]--
Incognito did not dispute that “breaking Jmart” meant causing Martin to have an emotional reaction in response to taunting
On November 3, 2013, Incognito wrote nearly identical text messages to both Pouncey and Garner: “They’re going to suspend me Please destroy the fine book first thing in the morning.”
Wells said: "Fortunately, neither heeded this request. Incognito told us that he wanted the fine book destroyed because he believed it would be “misunderstood” if it was reviewed outside of the offensive line."
### One of Martin’s representatives issued a press release on November 7, 2013, alleging that Martin “endured a malicious physical attack” that purportedly took place at a Christmas party for the offensive line that Pouncey hosted at his home on December 17, 2012. Wells said: “We find this allegation to be exaggerated.”
According to Martin, what began as inoffensive pushing and shoving with Incognito escalated to play boxing and then took a more physically aggressive turn when Incognito took off his shirt, tackled Martin onto a sofa, and began punching him in the body and the face (though not hard enough to bruise or draw blood).
Wells said: "Martin stated that he struggled to get Incognito off of him until several of his teammates broke up the scuffle. Martin believed that Incognito was trying to humiliate him in front of his teammates. We believe that the encounter went beyond mere roughhousing; Martin relayed in text messages to a friend the next day that Incognito “tried to beat my ass” and “body slammed me onto the couch and started punching me in the face.”
"But Martin sustained no injuries and, according to another text message by Martin to the same friend, “5 min later it was like nothing even happened and we went to the strip club.” Accordingly, we do not find the encounter to have been “a malicious physical attack,” although we fully credit Martin’s statements that he found the episode humiliating and viewed Incognito’s conduct as consistent with his pattern of demeaning Martin in front of other players.”
### Incognito sometimes shoved Martin or ate food taken from his locker. Wells said: "We did not find these allegations particularly disturbing, although we accept that they may have taken on particular significance in Martin’s mind. But as a general matter, after considering the factual record, it seems that verbal abuse, more than any alleged physical harassment, contributed to Martin’s departure from the Dolphins."
### Wells said Philbin “was not aware of the mistreatment of Martin, Player A [McDonald] or the Assistant Trainer. After interviewing Coach Philbin at length, we were impressed with his commitment to promoting integrity and accountability throughout the Dolphins organization—a point echoed by many players. We are convinced that had Coach Philbin learned of the underlying misconduct, he would have intervened promptly to ensure that Martin and others were treated with dignity.”
### Martin and other players claimed that Kevin O’Neill, the head trainer, not only overheard the racial epithets, but also sometimes laughed along and never intervened. Wells said: “We did not cover this specific topic in our interview with O’Neill, which was cut short because O’Neill expressed hostility toward our investigation.”
### Regarding the front office, Wells said: “Incognito told us that Jeff Ireland, the Dolphins’ former General Manager, and Brian Gaine, the team’s former Assistant General Manager, each took him aside on separate occasions in 2012 and told him to take responsibility for making Martin physically tougher and stronger.
"Incognito said he understood their instructions to mean only that he should work with Martin in the weight room to improve the rookie’s physical strength. He denied suggestions in recent news stories that he had been told by someone in the Dolphins organization to “toughen up” Martin by hazing him or treating him in a harsh or inappropriate manner.
“Incognito also told us that his taunting of Martin was not related in any way to instructions about making Martin 'tougher.' Both Ireland and Gaine denied that they gave Incognito any instruction to make Martin 'tougher.'”
But Ireland and Martin's agent (Kenny Zuckerman) disputed each other's account of a phone conversation between the two.
Wells: "Ireland told us that in the course of discussing the events surrounding Martin’s departure, he had casually remarked that if a schoolyard bully constantly takes one’s milk money, perhaps "fisticuffs" would be in order. Ireland claimed that he was not advocating actual violence, and that his comment has been taken out of context and distorted by the media. In contrast, Zuckerman said that he interpreted Ireland as being quite serious in suggesting that had Martin simply attempted to punch out Incognito or otherwise engaged him in physical violence, Incognito would have understood Martin’s objections and would have stopped the behavior about which Martin was complaining. Zuckerman strongly disagreed with the suggestion that Ireland had merely offered a hypothetical example of how a schoolyard bully should be confronted."
### Wells interviewed more than 100 people, some of them more than once. Most were in person; several were over the telephone. “In mid-November 2013, we interviewed every player who was on the Dolphins’ roster, all of the Dolphins’ coaching staff and key front office personnel. We also interviewed a number of former Dolphins, some of Jonathan, Martin’s teammates from Stanford, two of Martin’s coaches from Stanford, Martin’sparents and his agent.”
### When the Dolphins signed Incognito, he was given only a one-year contract, essentially a trial period, and the deal included a “character clause” that gave the Dolphins the right to release him in the event of misconduct.
Wells said: "We were told that Incognito is the only Dolphin who has been required to agree to such a term. In addition, Ireland met with Incognito and informed him that he would be subject to a “one-strike” policy for any on-field or off-field infractions."
### And yet the team still kept him after multiple incidents in his next Dolphins contract.
Wells writes: “In May 2012, Incognito engaged in two incidents of inappropriate behavior at a Dolphins’ charity golf tournament within the span of less than 24 hours. He has admitted that both incidents were fueled by alcohol. In the first, he and several other players commandeered a guest’s car for joy-riding in the parking lot of the golf club and allegedly damaged the guest’s luggage.
"The next day, Incognito allegedly molested a female volunteer at the tournament. He was accused of using a golf club to touch her genitals, touching her inappropriately with his body, squirting water on her and other inappropriate conduct, and she filed a report with the police. Incognito was not charged. Incognito was not charged with a crime, but he entered into a confidential civil settlement to resolve the matter; news reports claim that he made a payment of $30,000.”
The Dolphins fined Incognito $5,000 for the first incident and $50,000 for the second, both for conduct deemed detrimental to the organization. The $50,000 penalty is one of the largest fines imposed on any Dolphins player to date for off-season conduct, according to team executives.
Incognito apologized to the Dolphins for his conduct at the golf tournament, but also filed a grievance against the team with respect to the $50,000 fine. He disputes certain allegations made by the female volunteer at the golf tournament, though he does not claim his conduct was appropriate. That matter remains unresolved.
In June 2012, Incognito was accused of making inappropriate remarks to a patron at a Miami restaurant and entering her vehicle without permission. The Dolphins investigated these allegations and concluded that they could not be substantiated and that he should not be punished.
### Incognito met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in August 2012, and it was made clear to Incognito that “his recent history of alleged misconduct reflected a troubling pattern. Incognito was told to ensure that his future behavior met the standards of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy, at the risk of immediate disciplinary action.”
### Wells said “nearly every player we interviewed had a strong reaction to Incognito. Many of them emphatically stated that he was a great teammate, a force on the field and a hard worker in the weight room and in practice. Many considered him a leader and a friend. At the same time, we repeatedly heard him described as loud, aggressive and boisterous, with little sense of social boundaries—someone who was constantly making boorish jokes and getting in his teammates’ faces, more so than other players, and frequently more than was welcome. During our interviews, teammates referred to Incognito using such terms as “smart mouth,” “inappropriate,” “crazy,” “vulgar” and “asshole.”
Wells said “one player, whom we found credible, said that Incognito was “a good player, but he is kind of a disease; he divides a locker room. . . .[Incognito] is the kind of guy who has to be the alpha male.” This player went on to say that Incognito “feels like he has to make fun of the younger players,” and “people join in with him so he doesn’t make fun of them.”
### Kenny Zuckerman, Martin’s agent, will speak to the Dolphins in the coming days. “The Dolphins want to do what’s in everyone’s best interest, including Jonathan’s,” he told me an hour ago. “He told me on Wednesday that he will play for any team and anywhere. They have his rights.”
Zuckerman declined to say if he will ask for trade, but Stephen Ross already has said it’s doubtful Martin returns to the team.
Please see the last post for more Dolphins news, plus Heat, Marlins and Canes.