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NFL report details Jonathan Martin's struggles with depression, accuses three teammates of bullying the Dolphins lineman

Every morning Jonathan Martin arrived at the Miami Dolphins' facility in Davie he silently repeated the mantra "just get through the day" in his attempt to fight bouts with depression, which he has had since childhood.

Martin's struggles as one of the Dolphins' starting offensive tackles didn't help, and neither did three fellow lineman -- Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey and John Jerry -- whose constant teasing sent Martin into a deep state of depression that forced him to leave the team according to the NFL's Independent report into the Dolphins bullying saga.

Incognito, who served an eight game suspension for his harassment of Martin, was also Martin's closest friend. But he often acted like a barbarian, and his drunken stupors, which often featured Martin as the victim, earned him nickname "Tornado" for the path of destruction left behind.

In the 144-page report, which comes with a warning that the language and behavior described in the report are extremely vulgar, concludes that three -- Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry -- all engaged in a pattern of harassment directed at not only Jonathan Martin, but also another young Dolphins offensive lineman and an assistant trainer named Naohisa Inoue.

"You could not define me in 144 years let alone 144 pages Mr Wells," Incognito said on Twitter in response to the report. "Thank you for your hard work and dedication."

The report admits they "struggled evaluating Martin's claims" because of his long standing mental health issues. However, claims made by the "Assistant trainer" and "Player A" backed up Martin's claims that Incognito was abusive.

"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," Ted Wells states in his summary of his independent investigation.

Wells and his team reviewed thousands of voluntarily produced documents, including text messages, emails, team policies, and completed more than 100 interviews, including interviews of all Dolphins players and coaches, key front office personnel, and the team's owner and chairman.

"We are committed to a positive workplace environment where everyone treats each other with respect," Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said Friday evening after reading the report. "We have reviewed our Code of Conduct and workplace policies and are making enhancements to the areas of sports psychology, human resources and player engagement functions which serve as safe outlets for any player or employee."

The report concludes that the harassment by Martin's teammates was a contributing factor in his decision to leave the team in mid-October, following Miami's 27-17 loss to the New England Patriots. It states that Martin's teammates didn't intend to cause Martin "lasting emotions injury," but that was the outcome of their vile behavior, and consistent mocking.

"The Report rejects any suggestion that Martin manufactured claims of abuse after the fact to cover up an impetuous decision to leave the team. 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 opinions in the report are those of Wells, and his law firm. It states no representative of the NFL, the NFL Players Association, the Dolphins or any player drafted, reviewed or edited the report before it was released Friday morning.

Incognito's team of lawyers are disputing the accuracy of Wells investigation, which began in November.

"Mr. Wells' NFL report is replete with errors. The facts do not support a conclusion that Jonathan Martin's mental health, drug use, or on field performance issues were related to the treatment by his teammates," the statement from Incognito's attorney Mark Schamel stated.

"It is disappointing that Mr. Wells would have gotten it so wrong, but not surprising. The truth, as reported by the Dolphins players and as shown by the evidence, is that Jonathan Martin was never bullied by Richie Incognito or any member of the Dolphins Offensive line."

Martin admitted to the investigators that Incognito only used the N-word to describe him twice, but there were other derogatory terms used "like darkness" in a mocking fashion.

There was also one altercation between Martin and Incognito, which took place at Pouncey's house on Christmas Day, which the report downplayed as roughhousing based on their investigation.

The report also claims Pouncey and Jerry were merely followers to Incognito's alpha male antics, which included Incognito fining himself $200 for "breaking" Martin.

Incognito's attempts to get Pouncey and Martin to destroy the fine log was cited as evidence he knew his behavior, and conduct toward Martin were inappropriate.

Martin admitted to being sensitive to criticism because in junior high and high school he was a victim of bullying and it impacted his self-esteem and led to period bouts with depression as a teenager.

Martin claims the depression he experienced in high school resurfaced because of the treatment he experienced as a member of the Dolphins and admitted that on two occasions he thought of committing suicide in 2013.

Offensive line coach Jim Turner was the first Dolphins coach or player Martin confided in, and Turner immediately told Philbin about Martin's struggles. The team got him psychiatrist, which prescribed him Lexapro, an anti-depressant, but after eight weeks he stopped speaking to the psychiatrist, whom he never told about his harassment.

But Martin wasn't the only player, or employee the trio of offensive linemen allegedly harassed.

Another young offensive lineman, who is referred to as "Player A" in the report for confidentially reasons, was subjected to homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching.

Incognito admitted that "Player A" got it "every day from everybody, high frequency. He was also touched by Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry in his rear end, while being taunted about his supposed homosexuality. Incognito admitted he'd routinely grab "Player A" and ask for a hug as part of "a joke."

Then there was the "Assistant trainer" who was ridiculed with racial insults and other offensive comments.

The report says Turner was aware of the running joke about "Player A" being homosexual, and in one instance he participated in the taunting. Around Christmas of 2012 Turner gave all his linemen gift bags. Most featured blow up dolls of females. "Player A" got a blow up doll of a male.

Turner said he couldn't remember if he gave "Player A" a male blow up doll, but the story was backed up by multiple players. Martin also acknowledged that he referred to "Player A" as gay, but never did it to his face. "Player A" said the running joke about his sexuality wasn't welcomed.

According to the report, the "Assistant Trainer", who was born in Japan, was commonly referred in offensive ethnic epithets by Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry.

On Dec. 7, 2012, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey donned traditional Japanese headbands that featured a rising sun emblem (which the assistant trainer had given them) and jokingly threatened to harm the assistant trainer physically in retaliation for the Pearl Harbor attack. According to Martin, the assistant trainer confided in him that he was upset about the Pearl Harbor comments, finding them derogatory toward his heritage.

The "Assistant Trainer" denied all of Martin's claims, and admitted to the investigating team that his cooperation would make players uncomfortable with him. However, the report determined the trainer's denials weren't believable because of texts he sent Martin hours after he left the team admitted that he was indeed insulted by the actions of Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry.

The report believes that if Martin went to a coach or authority it meant "risking ostracism or even retaliation from his fellow linemen," which had a running fine called the "Judas" code, which called out a traitor or "snitch."

Former assistant offensive line coach Chris Mosley, who left the team at midseason, admitted Turner introduced the concept to the offensive line, which is a claim Turner denied. The "Judas" fine was often used when a player was blamed for a mistake and pointed finger at another. Violators of the "Judas" code were subjected to the team's Kangaroo court fines, which were used to pay for the unit's offseason vacation.

Martin claims that both Turner and Mosley were aware of some of the inappropriate comments made to him and his family.

The report does state coach Philbin and the Dolphins front office figures were not aware of Martin's treatment by his teammates until after he left the team.

"After interviewing Coach Philbin at length, we were impressed with his commitment to promoting integrity and accountability throughout the Dolphins organization -- a point echoed by many players," the report states on page 48. "We are convinced that had Coach Philbin learned of the underlying misconduct, he would have intervened promptly to ensure that Martin and others were treated with dignity."

After Martin left the team, Philbin and members of the Dolphins' front office staff reached out and offered support.

His teammates did as well. But once the bullying claims surfaced, Incognito and Pouncey shared a condemning text exchange that characterized Martin as a "snitch."

"If you're not with us, you're against us," Incognito wrote to Pouncey after informing Pouncey Martin's camp had released a story about the Dolphins' offensive line holding unit meetings in a strip club.

"No question bro, he's a coward for snitching," Pouncey wrote in a text the investigators cited in the report.

Incognito replied, "Snitches get stitches. Blood in, blood out. (Expletive that) guy."

Pouncey ended the exchange with, "He's dead to me."

Martin plans to continue his NFL career in 2014, but there are concerns about how comfortable he'll feel inside the Dolphins locker room, and if he'll be welcomed back for what he put the team through, creating a media circus that sideswiped an 8-8 season.

The Dolphins could try to trade Martin, and if not, release him outright this offseason.

Incognito and Jerry are both free agents, and neither is expected back. Pouncey, who was voted to his first Pro Bowl in 2013, has one more year left on his rookie contract, and the team has an option for fifth year that must be exercised in May.

It is possible the report could lead to suspensions or fines for Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry, and its possible Turner's status with the team could be in jeopardy because of how he failed to fully corporate with the Wells investigation.

(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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