James Walker | ESPN.com
Embattled Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito believed he was friends with teammate Jonathan Martin and feels “shocked” and “betrayed,” a source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com Friday night.
Incognito was suspended indefinitely this week for conduct detrimental to the team after Martin presented evidence — including threatening voice mails and text messages — to the Dolphins, the NFL and the NFLPA. The Dolphins are currently under investigation by the NFL, while both Martin and Incognito are away from the team.
“It’s probably a combination of totally blindsided and a bit betrayed,” the source said of Incognito’s current state. “He’s shocked. He can’t believe this happened and thinks it probably could have been avoided.”
According to the source, Incognito viewed himself as a “tough love older brother” to Martin. Incognito gave Martin a hard time but also was protective of Martin, the source said.
Multiple sources confirmed to ESPN on Monday that Incognito used racial epithets and profane language toward Martin on multiple occasions. In a transcript of a voice mail message from April, Incognito referred to Martin as a “half n—– piece of s—,” and added, “F— you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.”
Incognito received overwhelming support in Miami’s locker room following the suspension. On the other hand, the reception was lukewarm towards Martin.
Some Dolphins veterans even expressed dislike for the way Martin handled the situation, which caused a media firestorm and a huge distraction for the team as they prepare for Monday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I think if you have a problem with somebody — a legitimate problem with somebody — you should say, ‘I have a problem with this,’ and stand up and be a man,” Dolphins offensive tackle Tyson Clabo said. “I don’t think what happened is necessary. I don’t know why he’s doing this. And the only person who knows why is Jonathan Martin.”
Martin left the team on Oct. 28 following a lunchroom incident and hasn’t returned. Martin hired lawyer David Cornwell, who released a statement Thursday that claimed harassment and verbal attacks from multiple Dolphins teammates.
“Jonathan endured harassment that went far beyond the traditional locker room hazing,” Cornwell said in the statement. “For the entire season-and-a-half that he was with the Dolphins, he attempted to befriend the same teammates who subjected him to the abuse with the hope that doing so would end the harassment. This is a textbook reaction of victims of bullying. Despite these efforts, the taunting continued.”
In an unscientific survey conducted by team reporters for ESPN.com’s NFL Nation over two days this week, Incognito does not have the same level of support from some of his NFL peers that he has received from teammates. Three players participated from each team surveyed, with 72 players in all asked three questions. The players taking part were granted anonymity.
To the question of which player, Martin or Incognito, would they rather have as a teammate, 15 of the players who responded (20.8 percent) said they would rather have Incognito as a teammate, while 34 (47.2 percent) said they would rather have Martin as a teammate.
However, 23 of those who responded, or 31.9 percent, said they would want neither as a teammate. In all, the results showed that 57 of those who answered (79.2 percent) would not want Incognito as a teammate.
Information from ESPN.com Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold was used in this report.
- A Temple graduate and Hyattsville, Md., native who lives in Miami
- Joined ESPN in 2008