Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito sat down with Jay Glazer of Fox Sports to discuss the treatment of teammate Jonathan Martin amid various reports of Incognito's role in Martin's decision to leave the team.
Incognito, who has also been away from the Dolphins after the team suspended him last week, told Glazer the harsh messages went both ways. He admitted he crossed the line at times, but also said he never intended to hurt Martin.
Here's the interview in its entirety (full transcript also available via Fox Sports):
One text Incognito claimed to have received from Martin talked about murdering his family, a threat he said he never took seriously from his teammate:
Richie Incognito tells @JayGlazer, Martin texted him saying "I will murder your whole F-ing family". Says he didn't take him literally.— RyanAsselta (@RyanAsselta) November 10, 2013
Following the statement, Martin's lawyer, David Cornwell responded, posting the text message (Warning: NSFW language) on his Twitter account, showing that it looked to be a meme-type message from Martin to Incognito.
Incognito said he had brief contact with Martin after he left the team. In the text message obtained by Fox Sports, Martin said the culture and locker-room stuff got to him, but that he didn't blame anyone in particular. He also said the messages were sent by buddies, not enemies:
Jonathan Martin's text to Richie Incognito: pic.twitter.com/Hjk86XshxJ— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLONFOX) November 10, 2013
Glazer confirms he's seen the texts in question:
Incognito said he had Martin's back the entire time and his teammate never showed signs that he may have been uncomfortable with what went on in the locker room.
He also tried to explain why he shouldn't be viewed as a racist despite the language that was used:
Incognito: I'm not a racist. To judge me by that one word is wrong... It's never acceptable for me to use that word, even friend-to-friend— Andrew Abramson (@AbramsonPBP) November 10, 2013
Furthermore, Incognito said that he only had good intentions:
Incognito says "people don't know how Jon and I communicate with each other. That was coming from a brother, a friend"— RyanAsselta (@RyanAsselta) November 10, 2013
Ultimately, the lineman faults the NFL's culture for the problem:
Incognito " I blame the culture"— RyanAsselta (@RyanAsselta) November 10, 2013
In the end, Incognito claimed he would give Martin a hug if he was sitting next to him.
Richie Incognito: "My actions were coming from a place of love"— HuffPost Sports (@HuffPostSports) November 10, 2013
The 30-year-old veteran came under fire after ESPN passed along the racially charged text messages he reportedly sent to Martin, which were provided to both the NFL and the Dolphins as a part of the ongoing investigation into the matter.
Here's a message ESPN states was left by Incognito:
Hey, wassup, you half n----- piece of s---. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. [I want to] s--- in your f---ing mouth. [I'm going to] slap your f---ing mouth. [I'm going to] slap your real mother across the face [laughter]. F--- you, you're still a rookie. I'll kill you.
The report goes on to say the use of racial slurs was not an isolated incident and other messages included insults about sexual orientation.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports added that Incognito was previously reprimanded for actions toward team employees. Sources told him Martin was scared of what could happen to him after what amounted to bullying.
"It's hard to picture a 6'5'', 350-pound football player as being the victim of bullying, but that's exactly what took place here," the source said. "He is genuinely scared of what Incognito might do to him, or has threatened to do to him."
After the initial media firestorm, several members of the Dolphins came to Incognito's defense.
Gary Mihoces of USA Today provided comments made by quarterback Ryan Tannehill and offensive lineman Tyson Clabo, who were both surprised by the situation.
Tannehill said the two players were seemingly best friends.
"If you asked Jonathan Martin who his best friend is on this team two weeks ago, he'd say Richie Incognito," quarterback Ryan Tannehill told news reporters Wednesday. "It's tough for us to sit here and hear all that when we have each others' backs."
Clabo said Incognito wasn't a bad teammate.
"What's perceived is that Richie is this psychopath racist, and the reality is Richie was a pretty good teammate," tackle Tyson Clabo told news reporters. "I don't know why (Martin is) doing this. And the only person who knows why is Jonathan Martin."
Another report, from Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel, says Incognito was the leader of the offensive-line group and was asked by the coaching staff to help toughen Martin up after he missed a workout last spring, and things got out of control over time.
The sources told the paper they believe that Incognito, who is accused of using racially incendiary language and bullying tactics against Martin, may have taken those orders too far.
It's not clear whether those marching orders will now become part of a pending investigation by the NFL into the Dolphins' locker room culture, and the alleged bullying that took place between Incognito and Martin.
The entire ordeal brought the NFL's locker-room culture into the spotlight. Comments like the ones made by Mike Ditka, which were passed along by Pro Football Talk, highlight that debate:
Last week, Mike Ditka said Jon Martin should have punched Richie Incognito in the mouth. This week, Ditka calls Martin a "baby."— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) November 10, 2013
There is a line in every situation that shouldn't be crossed. Only Incognito and Martin know exactly how close of relationship they had, and that grey area makes it tough to pinpoint exactly when things broke down.
Incognito states he was simply trying to help a teammate, albeit in a manner people outside NFL locker rooms might not understand.
Through the interview, Incognito publicly clarified his stance, but the story is far from over.