After a thorough examination of the facts, we conclude that three starters on the Dolphins offensive line, Richie Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey, engaged in a pattern of harassment directed at not only Martin, but also another young Dolphins offensive lineman, whom we refer to as Player A for confidentiality reasons, and a member of the training staff, whom we refer to as the Assistant Trainer. We find that the Assistant Trainer repeatedly was targeted with racial slurs and other racially derogatory language. Player A frequently was subjected to homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching. Martin was taunted on a persistent basis with sexually explicit remarks about his sister and his mother and at times ridiculed with racial insults and other offensive comments….
In reaching this conclusion, we were significantly influenced by multiple factors, including the flagrantly inappropriate treatment of the Assistant Trainer and Player A, which, independent of Martin’s claims, reflected a pattern of harassment. Moreover, shortly after Martin left the team, Incognito made a number of telling entries in a notebook used to keep track of “fines” the offensive linemen imposed on each other in their “kangaroo court” (typically for trivial infractions such as arriving late to meetings). Incognito recorded a $200 fine against himself for “breaking Jmart,” awarded another lineman who had been verbally taunted a $250 bonus for “not cracking first,” and wrote down a number of penalties against Martin for acting like a “pussy.” The evidence shows, and Incognito did not dispute, that “breaking Jmart” meant causing Martin to have an emotional reaction in response to taunting. Approximately one week after Martin left the team, on November 3, 2013, Incognito wrote nearly identical text messages to Pouncey and another lineman: “They’re going to suspend me Please destroy the fine book first thing in the morning.” We view Incognito’s entries in the fine book about “breaking Jmart” and his attempt to destroy the fine book — which was unsuccessful — as evidence demonstrating his awareness that he had engaged in improper conduct toward Martin.
We reject the assertion by Incognito that Martin has fabricated claims of harassment after the fact. Contemporaneous text messages that Martin sent to his parents and others months before he left the Dolphins — which have never before been made public — corroborate Martin’s account that he was distressed by insults from his teammates and experiencing emotional turmoil because he believed he was “a push over” who was unable to stop the verbal assaults.
Further, Martin’s vulnerabilities do not excuse the harassment that was directed at him. That the same taunts might have bounced off a different person is beside the point. Bullies often pick vulnerable victims, but this makes their conduct more, not less, objectionable….
Martin has expressed a desire to continue his NFL career, and we hope that he will have the opportunity to do so. His brief experience in the league was derailed by harassment from his teammates, and it would be unfortunate if he did not get the chance to resume playing in an environment that will permit him to reach his full potential as a professional athlete.
The Dolphins locker room sounds like a hell hole. Also, it appears that the coaching staff (particularly the offensive line coach) knew about and encouraged this harassment.(via dendroica)