Lawyer: Texts banter, not bullying
The attorney for Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito fired back at Jonathan Martin on Thursday, saying Martin's comments and texts to Incognito were just as vulgar as the ones sent to him.
"The coarse and unacceptable comments and text messages that were sent to Jonathan Martin were of the same poor taste as those sent by him," attorney Mark Schamel said in a statement. "All of these communications were provided to Ted Wells and the NFL investigation. What they show is banter between friends, not bullying."
While the league is expected to release its report on the bullying case at some point after the Super Bowl, the NFLPA, also nearing the end of its own probe, says Martin refused to speak with attorney Richard Smith, who the union retained in November to interview witnesses and examine the Dolphins management's role that led to Martin leaving the team.
"We were able to talk to every player involved and were privy to the information about the administration in Miami," NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told reporters during a pre-Super Bowl news conference Thursday in New York.
"We weren't able to talk to Jonathan Martin, which was unfortunate. But we're going to conduct our workplace evaluation and our report is concluding."
Schamel alleges that Martin sent text messages to Incognito that "included threats to send someone over to Richie Incognito's home with a 'tranquilizer gun and sandpaper condoms' to homosexually rape him" and "another that said he would 'kill [Richie's] whole family.'"
"Richie Incognito has owned his inappropriate comments, despite the fact that they were made in jest, and it is time for Jonathan Martin to do the same," Schamel said.
The attorney claims that Martin didn't raise accusations of bullying until his performance on the field had suffered to a point where his spot on the roster might be in jeopardy and he had already left the team in October.
According to Schamel, Martin had confided to Incognito his own concerns "that he was not playing well, about how upset he was at being ranked by Pro Football Focus as among the worst linemen in the NFL, about his poor performance on the field, his demotion to right tackle and how he was concerned about what the outcome might be for his missing team meetings and about how he felt his job was at risk."
"Rather than deal with his poor on-field performance and myriad other issues, Martin is now hiding behind false allegations. The result undermines the real problems of bullying and demeans what is a very real problem for many young people," Schamel said.
Martin said earlier this week in an interview with NBC's Tony Dungy that he felt "trapped" after alleged repeated bullying by Incognito. Dungy was part of a task force established by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to improve the culture of the franchise. Also in that group were Don Shula, Dan Marino, Jason Taylor and Curtis Martin.
Schamel, however, said that Martin's claims ring hollow.
"Jonathan Martin was a full participant who at times led some of the exact same pranks and gags and text and email exchanges he now claims crossed the line," he said.
Incognito was suspended by the Dolphins on Nov. 3 and remained on the NFL's suspended list with pay for the rest of the season. He missed out on two game checks ($470,588) after agreeing to a compromise with the Dolphins in November when his suspension was extended with pay. He agreed to another extension in December.
Wells, a New York attorney, began an investigation ordered by the NFL in November. Ross said this week he expects Wells' report to be released not long after the Super Bowl. He said he's communicated with the NFL and has a good idea of some of the report's contents.