Miami Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin allegedly sent guard Richie Incognito a text message four days after he left the team saying he doesn’t blame Incognito for his situation.
Incognito, who blames NFL locker-room culture for his behavior, said a week before Martin left the team he sent him a text saying he was going to kill his entire family.
Incognito discussed his situation with Fox Sports on its NFL Pre-Game Show. Incognito spoke to NFL Insider Jay Glazer on Saturday in Los Angeles.
Incognito says he knows language he used in texts and voicemails to Martin "are not right." Incognito said that "what I want people to know is, the way Jonathan and the rest of the offensive line and how our teammates, how we communicate, it’s vulgar.”
The Dolphins are the focus of an NFL investigation into bullying and harassment charges stemming from Martin leaving the club Oct. 28, reportedly to seek treament for emotional distress. Widely circulated was a voicemail from Incognito to Martin laced with the profanity, including use of the N-word, and a threat of murder.
Incognito continued to deflect the blame for his actions throughout the interview by saying that what went on in the locker room and his personal relationship with Martin were private matters taken out of context, while also admitting his use of his language was inappropriate, particularly outside of football.
“It’s thrown around a lot," Incognito said of the derogatory word for a black person. "It’s a word that I’ve heard Jon use a lot ... and I’m not saying that it’s right for when I did it on a voicemail. There’s a lot of colorful words thrown around the locker room that we don’t use every day in life.
"The fact of the matter remains though, that that voicemail was left on a private voicemail for my friend and it was a joke.”
Incognito repeatedly said Martin was a friend and that he didn't realize the young player was hurt by his actions.
"Jon never showed signs that football was getting to him, the locker room was getting him,” Incognito said.
During the interview Incognito volunteered to give Glazer his cell phone. Glazer said he counted 1,142 text messages between Incognito and Martin in the last year, including one sent the day after the Dolphins’ 22-20 overtime victory against Cincinnati, which was also two days before Incognito was suspended:
“Wassup man the world’s gone crazy. Lol. I’m good tho. Congrats on the win. I’m good man. It’s insane bro but just know I don’t blame u guys at all. It’s just the culture around football and the lockerroom got to me a little.”
That text message could change the narrative, for now, in the high-profile case between these two teammates.
Glazer characterized the 1,142 texts between the two as “offensive,” but said it goes back and forth.
Incognito said the issue of this whole situation is his relationship with Martin.
“This isn’t an issue about bullying,” Incognito said. “This is an issue of mine and Jon’s relationship where I may, I’ve taken stuff too far. I did not intend to hurt him.
“What I was going for, I was going for I haven’t seen my buddy. I wanted to shock him. I wanted him to call me back. When the words are put in the context I understand why a lot of eyebrows get raised 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, did I think Jonathan Martin was going to murder my family? Not one bit.”
Incognito said he understood the context of Martin’s text.
“I didn’t think he was going to kill my family,” Incognito said. “I knew it was coming from a brother, I knew it was coming a friend, I knew it was coming from a teammate. That just puts in context how we communicate with one another.”
In a move that hints this issue could end up in a courtroom, Incognito refused to answer whether he was ordered by a Dolphins coach to “toughen up” Martin.
“He said, ‘I can’t talk about that. There are still legal issues here,’ ” Glazer said.
Incognito, who was suspended by the Dolphins for conduct detrimental to the team, is in Los Angeles. So is Martin, who is away from the team on a “non-football illness.”
Incognito is a friend of Glazer’s from their days a few years ago when Glazer gave Incognito off-season mixed martial arts (MMA) training.
Incognito confirmed he left that vulgar voicemail on Martin’s phone, the one in which he used the “n-word” and said other nasty things.
Incognito said he’s “embarrassed” when he sees the text of that message. He said it’s “vulgar. It’s not right.”
But Incognito also said, “I’m not a racist.”
And he added, “In no way, shape, or form is it acceptable for me to use that word.”
Incognito said if he knew he was being hurtful toward Martin or his family he’d apologize. He also said if Martin was there in the room he’d give him a “big hug.”
Incognito, voted by teammates to the Dolphins’ six-player Leadership Council, said he was disappointed he didn’t see signs of a problem with Martin.
“As the leader, as his best friend on the team, that’s what has me miffed, how I missed this,” Incognito said. “I never saw it. I never saw it coming.”