Dolphins guard Richie Incognito, who has been in the middle of controversy for two weeks over his treatment of teammate Jonathan Martin, said he is not a bully. Incognito said that Martin sent him tasteless teasing messages just like the ones Incognito sent Martin and landed him in trouble.
Incognito was suspended by the team while the NFL investigates what role he had in the harassment and hazing that led to second-year offensive tackle Martin leaving the team. Martin missed last week's game, and is expected to miss at least Monday night's game as well. There's no timetable on his return to the team. One message in particular that Incognito left for Martin, which was crass and included a racial slur, got a lot of attention.
In an interview with Jay Glazer on Fox's pregame show, Incognito explained the messages that have become public by saying that's how he and Martin communicate with each other. He said that Martin has sent him similar crude messages and said both men knew they were in jest. Incognito said about the voicemail he left Martin, "When I see that voicemail, when I see those words come up across the screen, I’m embarrassed by it. I’m embarrassed by my actions," but insisted that's how he and Martin and all the linemen communicated, even though it's vulgar and "not right."
"This isn’t an issue about bullying," Incognito told Glazer. "This is an issue of my and Jon’s relationship where I have 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.
"A week before this went down, Jonathan Martin texted me on my phone, I will murder your whole effing family. Now, did I think Jonathan Martin was going to murder by family? Not one bit.
"He texted me that. I didn’t think he was going to kill my family. I knew it was coming from a brother. I knew it was coming from a friend. I knew it was coming from a teammate. That just puts into context how we communicate with one another."
Glazer said he saw the text that Incognito referenced.
— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) November 10, 2013
In part two of the interview, Incognito defended himself. Here are Incognito's quotes:
• "I'm not a racist and to judge me by that one word is wrong. In no way shape or form is it ever acceptable to use that word, even if it's friend to friend on a voice mail. I regret that."
• "You can ask anyone in the Miami Dolphins locker room, who had Jonathan Martin's back the absolute most and they will undoubtedly tell you me. Jon never showed signs that football was getting to him, the locker room was getting to him."
• "I can't sit here and tell you who overreacted and who did what. I can just sit here and be accountable for my actions. And my actions were coming from a place of love. No matter how bad and how vulgar it sounds, that's how we communicate, that's how our friendship was. And those are the facts and that's why I'm accountable for."
• "If you go by just all the knucklehead stuff I've done in the past, you're sitting in your home and you're thinking this guy is a loose cannon, this guy is a terrible person, this guy is a racist, when that couldn't be farther from the truth. If I was a racist and I was bullying Jon Martin, when the press went in there and asked them question, that locker room would've said "Listen, we saw this, we saw that." I'm proud of my guys for having my back and telling the truth."
Incognito also said if he saw Martin he would give him a big hug, and apologize to him for taking it too far.
Glazer said the one question Incognito wouldn't answer directly was if anyone in the Dolphins organization asked him to toughen Martin up. Glazer said Incognito sidestepped that question, citing legal issues. Glazer reported that the NFL is expected to talk to Martin on Wednesday or Thursday.
The more the Martin-Incognito story goes on, the more it's clear that we haven't heard the entirety of what happened between the two men behind the scenes or what their relationship consisted of.
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