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Offensive tackle Jonathan Martin wants to play in the NFL again but feels he cannot do it with the Miami Dolphins and is likely done with football for the season, a source close to the player told ESPN’s Lisa Salters.
The 24-year-old Martin is relieved to be away from the team because the past season and a half was unbearable for him, the source told ESPN.
Martin hated being picked on, so he tried to befriend teammates, according to the source.
Martin is expected to give his side eventually, but he wanted to create some time and space before he does, the source said. He is with his family and is receiving medical treatment for an undisclosed reason, according to the source.
On Sunday, suspended Dolphins lineman Richie Incognito deflected blame for many of his harsh actions against Martin during an interview with Fox Sports and also accused his teammate of using equally crass language, claiming that was the nature of their relationship.
“When words are put in a context, I understand why a lot of eyebrows get raised,” Incognito told Fox Sports during the interview. “But people don’t know how Jon and I communicate to one another. For instance, a week before this went down, Jonathan Martin texted me on my phone, ‘I will murder your whole f—ing family.’
“Now, do I think Jonathan Martin was going to murder my family? Not one bit. He texted me that. I didn’t think he was going to kill my family. I knew that was coming from a brother. I knew it was coming from a friend. I knew it was coming from a teammate.”
David Cornwell, Martin’s attorney, responded to Incognito’s claim via Twitter on Sunday. The tweet said, “JMart’s text 2 Richie Incognito. U decide” followed by an image of a woman holding a dog from a comedy website with the words embedded in the picture, “I will murder your whole f—ing family.”
Incognito, meanwhile, staunchly denied bullying Martin and claimed to be Martin’s most supportive teammate. Incognito said he was genuinely surprised Martin left the team and that the issue became a national media firestorm.
“You can ask anybody in the Miami Dolphins’ locker room who had Jon Martin’s back the absolute most, and they will undoubtedly tell you [it was me],” Incognito said. “Jon never showed signs that football was getting to him [or] the locker room was getting to him.”
Martin recently hired Cornwell, who released a statement last week claiming that Martin was the victim of constant harassment from various teammates, including a “malicious physical attack” and a threat on Martin’s sister.
The NFL’s independent investigator, Ted Wells, is expected to interview Martin later this week, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Team officials with potentially pertinent knowledge of the situation will be reviewed as the investigation extends beyond players, the sources said.
The NFLPA will act as a watchdog to make sure there’s a fair and transparent process for each player who is interviewed.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross texted Martin last week and offered his support as the Incognito controversy began to take hold, a league source told ESPN.
In the text, Ross expressed to Martin what he also said in a team news release last week — that he is committed to creating a professional environment for all members of his organization. Ross also has spoken to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about the situation in Miami, as well as with other league officials.
Incognito, in his interview with Fox Sports on Sunday, confirmed that he did leave the controversial voice mail message to Martin in April that included a racial slur and a threat to kill Martin. Despite the scathing language, Incognito said his actions “came from a place of love” and that vulgar communication was normal among Dolphins players.
“I’m not a racist, and to judge me by that one word is wrong,” Incognito said. “In no way, shape or form is it ever acceptable for me to use that word, even if it’s friend-to-friend on a voice mail.”
In a transcript of the 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.”
“It’s thrown around a lot,” Incognito told Fox Sports. “It’s a word that I’ve heard Jon use a lot. It’s not saying it’s right that I did it and used it in a voice mail. But it’s a lot of colorful words that are being thrown around in a locker room that we don’t use in everyday life.”
Dolphins offensive lineman Mike Pouncey told ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” crew that he thought Incognito’s Sunday interview was “fantastic.”
“It was absolutely true,” Pouncey said. “[Incognito] was very sincere about a lot of things. He admitted when he was wrong and let the whole world know his side of the story.”
The Dolphins (4-4) visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8) on Monday night on ESPN.
ESPN’s Lisa Salters, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and ESPN.com Dolphins reporter James Walker contributed to this report.