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    NFL inquiry backs Dolphins’ Jonathan Martin

    Richie Incognito, left, and Jonathan Martin were teammates on the Dolphins’ offensive line until both left the team in the middle of last season.
    Wilfredo Lee/AP/File
    Richie Incognito, left, and Jonathan Martin were teammates on the Dolphins’ offensive line until both left the team in the middle of last season.

    An investigation into the racially charged Miami Dolphins bullying scandal detailed widespread harassment in the team’s locker room that extended beyond the two players at the center of the probe.

    The NFL-ordered report stated there was a ‘‘pattern of harassment’’ committed by at least three players and extended to another lineman and an assistant trainer, all targets of vicious taunts and racist insults.

    Lawyer Ted Wells released the report Friday, saying guard John Jerry and center Mike Pouncey followed Richie Incognito’s lead in harassing Jonathan Martin, who left the team in October. They threatened to rape his sister, called him a long list of slurs, and bullied him for not being ‘‘black enough.’’


    In a statement e-mailed by a league spokesman, the NFL did not make any mention of possible punishment stemming from the case. The league only confirmed it had received the report and said it appreciated the Dolphins’ cooperation with the investigation. Wells said he does not intend to comment further.

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    Martin is biracial, Incognito is white, and Jerry and Pouncey are black.

    Martin’s agent Kenneth Zuckerman said his client feels ‘‘vindicated’’ by the report.

    ‘‘He feels a great sense of relief,’’ Zuckerman told the AP. ‘‘Jonathan Martin is a great man and he’s only shown me that he is very honest since the day I met him. He loves football and is eager to get back on the field, regardless of what team he plays for.’’

    Incognito’s attorney, Mark Schamel, released a statement calling Wells’s report ‘‘replete with errors’’ and said that Martin ‘‘was never bullied by Richie Incognito or any member of the Dolphins’ offensive line.’’


    Martin, who has two years left on his contract with the Dolphins, declined interview requests.

    Incognito was suspended in November, but Pouncey and Jerry remained starters throughout the season.

    The report mentioned another offensive lineman and an assistant trainer who also routinely came under attack from the trio. Neither was identified in the report.

    The report chronicled Martin’s struggle to deal with a ‘‘pattern of harassment,’’ including emotional text exchanges with his parents and a description of him crying in the bathroom after one particularly painful attack.

    Martin also told investigators that he ‘‘believed that trying to engage in a physical confrontation with these three — whom he viewed as a united group — would only make matters worse.’’


    The inquiry said Martin was taunted and ridiculed almost daily. After Martin left the team, Incognito boasted about ‘‘breaking Jmart’’ in a notebook the linemen used to tally fines and bonuses among themselves. When the investigation began, Incognito asked another player to destroy the book, saying ‘‘They’re going to suspend me.’’

    The other harassed player was ‘‘subjected to homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching,’’ while the assistant trainer, who was born in Japan, was subjected to racial slurs.

    ‘‘It was not difficult to conclude that the Assistant Trainer and Player A were harassed, but the questions raised in Martin’s case were more complex, nuanced and difficult,’’ the report says.

    Although Wells concluded that Martin was abused by three teammates, the report said ‘‘they did not intend to drive Martin from the team or cause him lasting emotional injury.’’

    Evaluating Martin’s claims was difficult, ‘‘given his mental health issues, his possible heightened sensitivity to insults and his unusual, ‘bipolar’ friendship with Incognito,’’ the report said.

    ‘‘Nonetheless, we ultimately concluded that Martin was indeed harassed by Incognito, who can fairly be described as the main instigator.’’

    ‘‘To a great extent, Incognito dictated the culture,’’ the report said. ‘‘We doubt that matters would have gotten so out of hand had Incognito not set a tone on the offensive line that made extremely vulgar taunting a typical form of communication.’’

    Dolphins offensive line coach Jim Turner didn’t attempt to stop the behavior and even took part in some of the taunting of ‘‘Player A,’’ the report said.

    Several people interviewed told investigators that Turner gave Player A a male sex doll as a gag gift around Christmas 2012. Turner told investigators he did not remember the incident, but investigators said they did not believe him.

    However, the report found no evidence that the Dolphins front office or head coach Joe Philbin was aware of the conduct Martin found abusive.

    The 6-foot-5-inch, 312-pound Martin abruptly left the team Oct. 28.