Miami Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin endured harassment from teammates that went far beyond the traditional locker room hazing, including a malicious physical attack and daily vulgar comments, his new attorney David Cornwell has said.
The allegations were made in a statement Thursday night by David Cornwell, hired this week as Jonathan Martin’s attorney.
“These facts are not in dispute,” David Cornwell said.
Jonathan Martin, upset by treatment he considered abusive, left the Dolphins last week. His agent then complained to the Dolphins, who suspended guard Richie Incognito.
The NFL is investigating whether Richie Incognito harassed or bullied Jonathan Martin, and whether their teammates and the organization mishandled the matter.
David Cornwell is a lawyer who has represented the NFL and several prominent players, including Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He was a candidate in 2009 to become executive director of the NFL Players Association, a job that went to DeMaurice Smith.
“For the entire season and a half that he was with the Dolphins, he attempted to befriend the same teammates who subjected him to the abuse with the hope that doing so would end the harassment,” the statement said.
“This is a textbook reaction of victims of bullying. Despite these efforts, the taunting continued. …
“Eventually, Jonathan made a difficult choice. Despite his love for football, Jonathan left the Dolphins. Jonathan looks forward to getting back to playing football. In the meantime, he will cooperate fully with the NFL investigation.”
The Dolphins and Richie Incognito’s agent didn’t respond to requests for comment on David Cornwell’s statement.
Some say Jonathan Martin, a Stanford graduate who went about his business quietly, handled the situation well. But pro football is a macho world, and some players believe Jonathan Martin should have responded more firmly.
“Is Incognito wrong? Absolutely. He’s 100 percent wrong,” New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle said.
“No individual should have to go through that, especially in their workplace.
“But at the same time, Jonathan Martin is a 6-4, 320-pound man. I mean, at some point and time you need to stand your ground as an individual. Am I saying go attack, go fight him? No. I think we all understand we can stand our ground without anything being physical.”
David Cornwell disagreed.
“Jonathan Martin’s toughness is not at issue,” David Cornwell said.
“The issue is Jonathan’s treatment by his teammates.”
Dolphins players have robustly defended Richie Incognito, long considered among the NFL’s dirtiest players. He’s now a notorious national villain, but teammates praise his leadership and loyalty.
They’ve been less passionate in their support of Jonathan Martin, saying he and Incognito behaved like best friends.
Jonathan Martin is with his family in California to undergo counseling for emotional issues.
A senior partner in a New York law firm was appointed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to investigate possible misconduct and prepare a report.
The alleged bullying saga engulfing the Dolphins has shed a light on how damaging perceptions can be in the violent world of the NFL.
A Pittsburgh native, Jonathan Martin is the son of Harvard graduates and his great grandfather also graduated from the school in 1924. At Stanford, he protected Andrew Luck’s blind side, and also majored in the classics.
Taken in the second round of the 2012 draft, Jonathan Martin has what it takes physically to be an NFL player: size, skill, athleticism, intelligence. He won praise from the Dolphins for his diligent study of game and practice video.
But while he has been a starter since the first game of his rookie season, Jonathan Martin developed a reputation in the NFL for lacking toughness. That impression might have been reinforced by the way he handled his issues with Incognito, current and former teammates acknowledge.
“A lot of people might look at Jonathan Martin and think that he’s soft because he stepped away from the game, and say, <<Why don’t you just fight him?>>” said Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, who played with Jonathan Martin at Stanford.
“Well, if you look at it with common sense and being logical, what options did Jonathan Martin have?
“He could fight Richie Incognito. He could go and tell on the players, which we know in the football locker room doesn’t go over too well. Or he could remove himself from the situation and let the proper channels take care of itself. And I think he made the intelligent, smart choice without putting himself or Richie Incognito’s physical abilities in danger.”
Richie Incognito’s harassment of Jonathan Martin included text messages that were racist and threatening, two people familiar with the situation have told The Associated Press. Richie Incognito is white, while Jonathan Martin is biracial.
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