James Walker | ESPN.com
DAVIE, Fla. — Players in the Miami Dolphins‘ locker room Thursday had mixed reactions to a potential return by right tackle Jonathan Martin. This came just 24 hours after many players expressed overwhelming support for guard Richie Incognito, who was suspended indefinitely Sunday for conduct detrimental to the team.
Martin has said he suffered harassment and was bullied by Incognito, and handed over evidence to the Dolphins, the NFL and NFLPA. ESPN obtained the transcript of a voice mail allegedly left by Incognito that included racial slurs and threats of violence.
When asked if Martin could return to Miami’s locker room, the reception was lukewarm.
“I’m not sure how everybody will feel about him,” left tackle Bryant McKinnie said. “That was his situation and he felt the need to do it, I guess, so be it. Some things you like to keep in house.”
McKinnie, like several Dolphins veterans, blamed Martin, not Incognito, for causing a media firestorm.
“If you honestly ask me, it was a decision that Jonathan Martin made on his own to leave,” McKinnie said. “There was a repercussion behind that involved Richie. That’s between them now.”
Many players didn’t like the way Martin aired the team’s dirty laundry in public.
“You kind of wish people went about it a different way,” Dolphins defensive lineman Jared Odrick said. “There’s other ways that this could have been handled. It’s tough to speak on.”
On Wednesday, Dolphins veterans provided overwhelming support for Incognito. Some said they thought Incognito and Martin were friends and were surprised by Martin’s allegations.
Dolphins players were asked Thursday why Martin wasn’t getting as much support in the locker room as Incognito.
“That’s because Richie is the one being bashed the hardest,” McKinnie said. “Everybody knows Richie as a person, his personality, and how he was in the locker room. For him to be portrayed [as a racist and a bully, it’s] kind of difficult for the guys to see that in the locker room because they actually know him.”
Whether Martin returns to the team is a decision the Dolphins’ front office and coaching staff have to make. Martin is a 2012 second-round pick with two years left on his contract.
“At the end of the day, our organization drafted him,” cornerback Dimitri Patterson said. “They saw him as a future cog in this organization. So he will be welcomed back. Things happen for whatever reason. But he’s still a Miami Dolphin.”
Martin’s family has hired attorney David Cornwell to represent Martin’s legal interests in the issues with the Dolphins.
The hiring was earlier reported by Fox Sports. Cornwell released a statement Thursday night on Martin’s behalf.
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith released a statement Thursday saying he’s been in contact with Dolphins players.
“I continue to be in touch with players in Miami, their representatives and player leadership, and I look forward to information that defines the full scope of the NFL’s investigation,” he said. “Every NFL player should expect safe and professional working conditions. The NFLPA has taken steps to ensure that every one of our affected members is represented. It is our duty as a union to learn the full facts, protect the interests of players involved and hold management accountable to the highest standards of fairness and transparency.”
- A Temple graduate and Hyattsville, Md., native who lives in Miami
- Joined ESPN in 2008