Suspended Miami Dolphins
offensive guard Richie Incognito told Fox Sports in a television interview that aired Sunday that he did not bully teammate Jonathan Martin
, and that their relationship was an accepted part of the team's locker room culture.
However, Incognito said he regretted using racial slurs against Martin.
The Dolphins suspended Incognito indefinitely a week ago for conduct detrimental to the team after Martin revealed threatening voice mails and text messages he received from Incognito to the team, the NFL and the NFL Players Association.
Martin left the team Oct. 28 after a lunchroom prank in which some teammates, including Incognito, refused to sit next to him. He is in Los Angeles with his family and receiving counseling for emotional issues.
"All this stuff coming out, it speaks to the culture of our locker room, it speaks to the culture of our closeness, it speaks to the culture of our brotherhood," Incognito said.
"And the racism, the bad words, that's what I regret most, but that's a product of the environment and that's what we use all the time."
In one voice mail message left for Martin in April, Incognito said: "Hey, wassup, you half (racial slur) piece of (expletive). I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. I'll (expletive) in your (expletive) mouth. I'm gonna slap your (expletive) mouth, I'm gonna slap your real mother across the face (laughter). (Expletive) you, you're still a rookie. I'll kill you."
Incognito also said Martin used similar language toward him, but that was part of their relationship.
"When words are put in a context, I understand why a lot of eyebrows get raised," Incognito said. "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 (expletive) family.'
"Now, do I think Jonathan Martin was going to murder my family? Not one bit. He text me that. I didn't think he was going to kill my family. I knew that was coming from a brother. I knew it was coming from a friend. I knew it was coming from a teammate."
Martin's agent, David Cornwell, responded by tweeting out what he said was the "murder" message Martin sent Incognito -- a forwarded joke image from the Internet. A smiling woman is holding a dog, with an embedded caption, "I WILL MURDER YOUR WHOLE (BLEEPING) FAMILY."
Cornwell added on his tweet, "U decide ....."
Incognito said he did nothing wrong and that he was particularly protective of Martin.
"This isn't an issue about bullying," Incognito said. "This is an issue of my and Jon's relationship. You can ask anyone in the Miami Dolphins locker room who had Jon Martin's back the absolute most and they will undoubtedly tell you me."
The NFL is investigating the Dolphins while Martin and Incognito are away from the team. CBS Sports reported that attorney Ted Wells is leading the investigation.
Wells reportedly has a long list of interview subjects and plans to extend his probe beyond the relationship between Incognito and Martin. He also plans to look at the broader locker-room culture, how pervasive bullying and harassment may be, and the possible roles of the coaching staff, management, and ownership in handling and control workplace issues in general.
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