Source: Ross offered Martin support via text

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross texted Jonathan Martin last week and offered his support as the Richie Incognito controversy began to take hold, a league source has said.

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 mess in Miami, as well as with other league officials.

The NFL’s independent investigator, Ted Wells, is expected to begin his diligence with Martin, who will become one of the first people, if not the first person, Wells interviews later this week, league sources said. Wells’ work will continue with other Dolphins players, coaches and administrators.

Dolphins officials with potentially pertinent knowledge of the situation will be reviewed as the investigation extends beyond players, league sources said.

The NFLPA will also act as a watchdog to make sure there’s a fair and transparent process for each player who is interviewed.

But it’s not just a few players who could be facing consequences; it’s an organizational issue that threatens to impact many. And the NFL and NFLPA are doing what they can to make sure no preconceived conclusions are drawn, sources said.

On Sunday, 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.”

Martin’s lawyer, David Cornwell, 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 that Martin left the team and it became a national media firestorm. Dolphins reporter James Walker contributed to this report.

  • ESPN NFL Insider
  • Joined ESPN in 2009
  • Former president of the Pro Football Writers of America and the author of four books

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