New York (AFP) - Three Miami Dolphins players repeatedly harassed teammates and an assistant trainer, according to an independent investigation into bullying allegations and workplace misconduct released Friday by the National Football League.
The 144-page report by Ted Wells, ordered by the league after the scandal erupted last November, found offensive linemen Richie Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey directed intimidating behavoir at Jonathan Martin and others.
Martin left the team late last October and later claimed Incognito bullied him with threats of violence and voice mails that included racial slurs.
Incognito was suspended in early November and neither blocker played again last season for the Dolphins, who struggled to an 8-8 finish and missed the NFL playoffs.
Martin was not the only victim of taunts and abuse, the investigation showed.
"The report finds that the assistant trainer repeatedly was the object of racial slurs and other racially derogatory language, that the other offensive lineman was subjected to homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching and that 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," Wells said in a statement.
Wells said after a complete review of e-mail and audio evidence that there was no way Martin simply made up the situation to cover for a desire to quit the team.
"The report rejects any suggestion that Martin manufactured claims of abuse after the fact to cover up an impetuous decision to leave the team," Wells said. "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 his account that the persistent harassment by his teammates caused him significant emotional distress.
"The report concludes that the harassment by Martin's teammates was a contributing factor in his decision to leave the team, but also finds that Martin's teammates did not intend to drive Martin from the team or cause him lasting emotional injury."
On Wednesday, Incognito sent an open letter to Martin on Twitter claiming that Martin had considered taking his own life last May because he did not feel he was playing well.
"The truth is going to bury you and your entire 'camp,'" Incognito tweeted.
"I'm guilty of being a loyal friend and good teammate. I apologize for my poor language and rude remarks. I've never denied it.
"FACT: Jonathan Martin told me he thought about taking his own life in MAY 2013 b/c he wasn't playing well. Told me he felt worthless."
Both the NFL and its players union released statements saying they had received the report but neither offered reaction.
"We appreciate the work of Ted Wells and his colleagues and the cooperation of the Miami Dolphins organization in the investigation," an NFL statement said. "After we have had an opportunity to review the report, we will have further comment as appropriate."
"We will review the findings closely, confer with our players and all relevant parties involved," the NFL Players Association said.
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- Jonathan Martin
- Miami Dolphins
- Ted Wells
- Richie Incognito
- National Football League