Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin said he’s ready to return to the NFL, blamed other Dolphins players besides suspended Richie Incognito for bullying him (without offering names) and didn't implicate Joe Philbin in the locker-room scandal that captured headlines last season.
In an interview with NBC’s Tony Dungy that aired Wednesday, Martin said he never told Philbin that he was bullied by teammates before he left the team Oct. 28.
“It's a level of comfort,” he said. “It was something I didn’t feel comfortable sharing.”
Asked if he mentioned anything to coaches about the situation before this past season, Martin said: “I did mention. The organization knew I was struggling. I had some conversations with my coaches, mainly above me. I didn’t get into specifics. You’re not supposed to quote, unquote snitch on your teammates.”
Dolphins offensive line coach Jim Turner, who was interviewed during the investigation, remains on the Dolphins staff, but the team hasn’t said whether he would return next season.
Martin said what bothered him most were “comments of a racial nature, aggressive, sexual comments related to my sister and mother.”
He said he spoke to former teammates on other teams and asked them, “Does this stuff go on? Is this normal rookie hazing?”
He said: “The consensus was this was not normal. … It's not normal behavior, the way I was treated. It was accepted culture [in Miami]. It hurts you as a man to hear those attacks. It wears on you
Martin said there were other Dolphins players subjected to the bullying but didn’t offer names.
“I can’t say why I may have gotten it more,” he said. “I don't have a problem with the normal hazing you see in the NFL. Get a haircut, stuff like that, little pranks.
“But of a personal, attacking nature, I don’t think there’s any place for that. … I don't think there’s a place to disrespect people in a professional sport.”
Dungy asked Martin three times if he was friends with Incognito. Martin would not answer directly, saying only: “I wanted to be his friend. I was working to be his friend. But it’s a hard situation. I did everything I could. I didn’t know what else I could do.”
Martin said he left the team after “I came to the realization it wasn’t going to change. I had to remove myself from the situation for my own health.”
Asked whether he checked himself into a hospital after leaving the Dolphins, which has been widely reported, Martin would not answer. “I don't think that’s important,” he said.
Martin, who reportedly sought treatment for depression, said later in the interview he “had to get myself healthy” but wouldn't elaborate about that, either.
Martin was not asked about the “malicious physical attack” that his attorney said he was subjected to by teammates.
Dungy also did not ask Martin where he wants to play, but a close associate said there’s no way Martin can return to the Dolphins locker room, and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said Tuesday he does not believe Martin or Incognito would ever play for the team again. The Dolphins will try to trade Martin.
Asked if he’s ready to play in the NFL, Martin said: “I don’t think there’s any question I’m ready. … I know I would fit in any NFL locker room. I miss the camaraderie and the brotherhood you form.”
Does Martin have any regrets? “It's easy to nit-pick. … I’m focused on moving forward.”
Asked about pro-Incognito, anti-Martin reaction among players in the Dolphins’ locker room, he said: “Everyone can have their own opinion. They may not have had all the facts.”
Martin said he hasn’t spoken to any Dolphins people since leaving the team. Conversely, Incognito continued to exchange text messages with teammates following his suspension and even watched a game with center Mike Pouncey when Pouncey was sidelined by illness.