Sports Out West

Richie Incognito named ‘main instigator’ against Jonathan Martin, per report

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins

A report prepared on Friday that was made public by NFL investigator Ted Wells and the law group Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP names former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito as the primary source of harassment toward rookie offensive lineman Jonathan Martin

Per the report: 

“To be candid, we struggled with how to evaluate Martin’s claims of harassment given his mental health issues, his possible heightened sensitivity to insults and his unusual, “bipolar” friendship with Incognito. Nonetheless, we ultimately concluded that Martin was indeed harassed by Incognito, who can fairly be described as the main instigator, and by (John) Jerry and (Mike) Pouncey, who tended to follow Incognito’s lead.” 

According to ESPN.com, Martin’s agent said the former Stanford standout feels vindicated and is ready to resume his football career after the details came out. On the flip side, Incognito’s attorney says the report is filled with errors and that the claims of bullying are false. Further details of the report give accounts of daily harassment that included another anonymous Dolphins offensive lineman and an athletic trainer as victims.  

The timing of the report and the issue comes in the wake of news that NFL prospect and former Missouri star Michael Sam is gay. The NFL has an opportunity in both instances to show its progressiveness and tolerance. The way the league’s handled it so far — by launching a full investigation and unilaterally denouncing these actions of the Martin case — shows it’s relishing that chance to demonstrate its philosophy of inclusion. 

The counterargument to the Martin case is that the NFL locker room is a place unlike most workplaces, where harassment is commonplace and the ability to take a joke, albeit a crude one, is necessary in order to thrive. By all appearances, the NFL is prepared to separate itself from that perception. 

Photo by Joel Auerbach / Getty Images

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His work is also regularly featured on Yahoo! Sports and SB Nation. You can catch up with him on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets.