Incognito served as 'ring leader' in Jonathan Martin harassment
Jonathan Martin -- who was dealing with ongoing harassment from teammates -- is on a leave of absence from the team and it could be lengthy, Jason La Canfora reports.
For more news and notes from Jason La Canfora, tune into The NFL Today Sunday at noon ET on CBS.
Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin remains away from the team following an incident at the facility last week in which other members of the offensive line verbally harassed him, something that has been ongoing throughout his season-and-a-half there according to sources with knowledge of the situation. Dolphins guard Richie Incognito, according to sources, was “the ring-leader,” of the ongoing bullying, acting particularly “menacing” toward Martin, while center Mike Pouncey was also involved.
Incognito is strongly denying any role in the matter on social media. The NFLPA, while not investigating the issue as it is not in a position to discipline its members for locker room activities, is monitoring it and Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has spoken to Incognito, sources said, as well as representatives for Martin.
Martin has no plans to return to the team at this point, sources said, focused on getting himself well and waiting to see if the Dolphins take action in this manner. They have not adjusted his status or done anything to dock his pay to this point, nor has the team taken any action to ensure a safer and normal workplace environment for him, should he return. Until the Dolphins take action, Martin’s position is unlikely to change. It is likely that the team will place Martin on the non-football-injury list Tuesday.
Last week’s flare-up between Martin and his teammates, “was not an isolated incident -- not even close,” one source said. “It’s been going on almost since they drafted him.” Other players on the team said it was fairly widely known within the team that the offensive linemen were hard on Martin, a second-round pick in 2012, and Martin has expressed his displeasure with the situation in the past. Last week, several Dolphins players denied there was any history of verbal abuse or bullying of Martin.
Incognito has had to be reprimanded in the past for his actions toward team employees, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. It is not uncommon for him to intentionally walk into people and make others feel uncomfortable, and to make threatening remarks to Martin, sources said. “It’s hard to picture a 6-foot-5 350-lb football player as being the victim of bullying, but that’s exactly what took place here,” the source said. “He is genuinely scared of what Incognito might do to him, or has threatened to do to him.”
The Dolphins released the following statement regarding the situation:
"The Miami Dolphins, including Coach Joe Philbin and Jonathan's teammates, have been in communication with Jonathan and his family since his departure from the club and continue to be in contact," the Dolphins said in a statement released Sunday. "Our primary concern for Jonathan is his overall health and well-being. As an organization, we take any accusations of player misconduct seriously.
"The notion of bullying is based on speculation and has not been presented to us as a concern from Jonathan or anyone else internally. The reports that the NFLPA is investigating our players are inaccurate. Additionally, the NFL offered its assistance during this time, which we appreciated and gladly accepted."
"We will continue to make Jonathan's health and well-being a focus as we do with all of our players."
Rookie hazing is a rite of passage in the NFL, but this has continued well into Martin’s second season in the NFL and was personal and different from what the rest of the team’s 2012 rookie class might have gone through, sources said. The Dolphins' team management has been made aware of the timeline of events as well.
Martin was inactive for Thursday night’s win over the Bengals -- he was not at the stadium -- and at this point he remains on the 53-man roster. Martin began the season as the team’s starting left tackle and recently shifted back to the right side.
The Dolphins are not commenting on any specifics of Martin’s situation and the NFLPA released a statement Saturday saying they are not investigating Incognito or any other Dolphin player.
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