NFL Report: Yes, Lineman Harassed His Teammate

It faults Richie Incognito and two others, but says they didn't intend 'lasting injury'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2014 12:00 PM CST
NFL Report: Yes, Lineman Harassed His Teammate
In this July 24, 2013, file photo, Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito (68) and tackle Jonathan Martin (71) stand on the field during practice.   (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

A long-awaited report on allegations of bullying in the NFL is in, and the main headline-grabbing point is that Richie Incognito (and others) did indeed harass Miami Dolphins teammate Jonathan Martin (and others), reports the Miami Herald. But the report by attorney Ted Wells also gets a little squishy on the subject. For instance, it concludes that Incognito didn't intend to cause "lasting emotional injury" or drive Martin to quit the team—Martin left in October over the abuse, but remains under contract—and it cites a range of factors that make this case unique. Some of the highlights:

  • 'Was indeed harassed': "To be candid, we struggled with how to evaluate Martin's claims of harassment given his mental health issues, his possible heightened sensitivity to insults and his unusual, 'bipolar' friendship with Incognito. Nonetheless, we ultimately concluded that Martin was indeed harassed by Incognito, who can fairly be described as the main instigator, and by (teammates John) Jerry and (Mike) Pouncey, who tended to follow Incognito's lead."
  • Other victims: Incognito, Pouncey, and Jerry also repeatedly harassed a member of the team's athletic training staff and another unnamed lineman, reports USA Today.

  • Calls for new guidelines: "As all must surely recognize, the NFL is not an ordinary workplace. Professional football is a rough, contact sport played by men of exceptional size, speed, strength, and athleticism. But even the largest, strongest, and fleetest person may be driven to despair by bullying, taunting, and constant insults." The report encouraged new "workplace conduct rules" for the league.
  • 'Breaking Jmart': One of the more damning points cited against Incognito is that he fined himself $200 for "breaking Jmart" in a notebook kept by the team's offensive linemen, reports CBS Sports. When the story broke, he asked teammates to destroy the notebook, but that didn't happen.
  • Coaches didn't know: The report says coach Joe Philbin and staff were unaware of the abuse. It also says that "Incognito and his teammates may not have been clearly notified that they were crossing lines that would be enforced by the team with serious sanctions."
  • Read the full report here. The NFL and the Dolphins say they'll respond after a thorough review.
(More Richie Incognito stories.)

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