JERSEY CITY — Jonathan Martin spoke out against his treatment with the Dolphins in an interview with NBC’s Tony Dungy this week, and his camp spent several weeks in November trashing Richie Incognito’s character after Martin left the team.
Now, finally, Incognito is fighting back.
Incognito, suspended by the Dolphins when the episode broke (but continued to collect his game checks), ended his silence Thursday by hiring high-profile public relations firm Sitrick And Company and distributing a press release to the media, painting Martin as a willing participant in the vulgar language that was commonplace in the Dolphins’ locker room.
Incognito, painted as a racist villain by Martin’s camp, turned over information to the NFL that he believes portrays Martin as a troubled player on and off the field who used Incognito as a scapegoat for his problems.
Incognito also broke his relative silence on Twitter, starting a #FreeIncognito campaign on the social media service.
The Dolphins hired famed attorney Ted Wells to conduct an internal investigation on the matter, and that report is expected to be released shortly after Sunday’s Super Bowl.
“The coarse and unacceptable comments and text messages that were sent to Jonathan Martin were of the same poor taste as those sent by him. All of these communications were provided to Ted Wells and the NFL investigation. What they show is banter between friends, not bullying,” Incognito’s attorney, Mark Schamel, said in a statement. “Jonathan Martin sent text messages to Richie Incognito that included threats to send someone over to Richie Incognito’s home with a ‘tranquilizer gun and sandpaper condoms’ to homosexually rape him. Jonathan Martin sent another that said he would ‘kill [Richie’s] whole family.’ ”
While Martin participated in Wells’s investigation, he did not participate in the investigation conducted by the NFL Players Association, union chief DeMaurice Smith said Thursday.
Incognito’s attorneys alleged that Martin accused Incognito and other members of the Dolphins’ organization with bullying only after it appeared he might lose his starting job on the offensive line, and he left the team a day after the Dolphins’ 27-17 loss to the Patriots Oct. 27. Martin’s attorneys believe that only when the potential of placing Martin on the Non-Football Illness list arose — in which the Dolphins would have grounds to withhold his salary — did Martin attempt to make the Dolphins locker room appear to be a “hostile work environment” as grounds for a possible lawsuit.
Martin and his attorney, David Cornwell, declined to comment.
No ducking questions
Several players were asked at Tuesday’s Media Day if they would rather face 50 duck-sized broncos, or one bronco-sized duck.
And Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman created a stir recently for writing about Peyton Manning’s lack of arm strength in a “MMQB” column for Sports Illustrated’s website. Sherman praised Manning for his pre-snap reads and ability to check into the right play at the line of scrimmage, but, “His arm, however, is another story. His passes will be accurate and on time, but he throws ducks.”
Sherman didn’t back off that stance Wednesday.
“I still feel the same way I felt,” Sherman said. “He’s a great quarterback, he does a great job. But at the same time, when he catches the ball, he doesn’t necessarily catch the laces all the time.”
On Thursday, Manning was asked if he throws “ducks.” He responded with his typical humor.
“I believe it to be true,” he said with a chuckle. “I do throw ‘ducks’. I’ve thrown a lot of yards and touchdowns with ‘ducks’. I am actually quite proud of it.”
Wes Welker will turn 33 in May and had multiple concussions this season that forced him to miss three games.
But Welker, the former Patriots receiver, has no plans to retire from the NFL any time soon.
He scoffed at the idea of walking away from the game if the Broncos win the Super Bowl.
“Of course it would be a good way to end it, but I am still having fun,” Welker said. “I am still enjoying the game. I feel good, and as long as I am out there having fun, I will continue to play.”
Welker is under contract with Denver for one more year, but no guaranteed money. He is scheduled to have a salary cap number of $8 million next year, but the Broncos could save $6 million — $3 million in base salary and a $3 million option bonus— if they decide not to bring him back.
Meanwhile, Welker has been asked repeatedly about his fourth-quarter drop in the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the Giants two years ago. Giants safety Antrel Rolle told the New York Daily News on Thursday what most Patriots fans already believe.
“I know if he catches that ball, the Patriots win that Super Bowl,” Rolle said. “There’s no doubt about it.”
The Seahawks are practicing at the Giants’ training facility this week, but kicker Steven Hauschka and punter Jon Ryan have already been over to MetLife Stadium to test out the conditions. Seattle also played there in Week 15.
The Meadowlands area around the stadium is known for high wind gusts, but Sunday evening’s forecast calls for temperatures in the 30s and winds around 8 miles per hour.
“The kickers have already gone to the stadium and taken care of business there,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “You can’t always make it perfect for the players, but we’d like to get it as close to game life as possible. That’s what we’ve done, and I’m not concerned about it at all.”Ben Volin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin