In its investigation of an incident that led to Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin leaving the team, the NFL Players Association is looking into the possible role of Martin’s teammate Richie Incognito.
Martin, the Dolphins’ second-round draft pick in 2012 out of Stanford, has not been with the Dolphins since a Monday incident in which players jokingly refused to sit with him in the team’s cafeteria.
Martin has reportedly been the subject of teasing and bullying by teammates in the locker room since 2012.
Incognito told NFL.com that he heard back from Martin on Friday after he reached out to him to see how he was doing.
“Yeah, I’m good man,” Martin wrote during their conversation that lasted 19 text messages. “It’s insane bro, but just know I don’t blame you guys at all. It’s just the culture around football, and the locker room got to me a little.”
Martin’s representatives would not comment to NFL.com about the situation.
One high-ranking Dolphins official who did not want to be identified told ESPN that Incognito has been a “model citizen” and is puzzled by the allegations of Incognito’s involvement.
However, other sources told ESPN that Incognito has been involved in the alleged harassment of Martin going back to 2012. One of the sources said the emotional issues Martin has relate directly to the harassment.
An NFL spokesman said the league has contacted the Dolphins since Martin left the team and is monitoring the situation.
The players union said it is thoroughly investigating the team’s workplace environment and players allegedly involved, including Martin and Incognito. NFLPA attorneys have already gathered details that identify Incognito prominently as one of the offenders, a source told ESPN.
Incognito sustained a neck injury during Thursday night’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin on Friday addressed reports that Martin may have left the team because of bullying from teammates.
“I’m aware of this report, and I can say without question that we emphasize a culture of team first, accountability and respect for one another,” said Philbin, who gave the team the day off. “Any behavior that deviates from that is inconsistent with the values of our organization.
“This is something that we take very seriously. It will not be tolerated.“
The team said Martin would be welcomed back.
Martin expects to be away from the team for several weeks, according to NFL.com. According to the report, Martin has been in touch with teammates and is trying to work through his problems with his family. He hopes to return to the team at some point.
Philbin would not say if any players involved in the cafeteria incident will be disciplined.