What We Learned from the Ted Wells Report
Ted Wells' report has been released, and there's a plethora of damning information about the bullying atmosphere created in the Miami Dolphins locker room by Richie Incognito and other players.
Although Incognito believed the report would "bury" Jonathan Martin and his camp, it likely did the opposite.
Martin's severe anguish was explained, text message conversations were included and other bullying victims were revealed.
Let's take a look at what we learned from the stunning report.
Incognito Wasn't Only Dolphins Player Who Engaged in Harassing Behavior
Before the report was released, Richie Incognito was thought to be the only Dolphins player responsible for the bullying of Jonathan Martin.
Page 19 of the report clearly identifies center Mike Pouncey and guard John Jerry as also harassing players:
Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey routinely mocked and demeaned other Dolphins players and personnel.
This finding obviously has more widespread ramifications than originally believed.
Although Incognito was pegged as the ringleader months ago, Pouncey and Jerry could certainly face serious discipline by the league and even the Dolphins organization.
Martin Contemplated Suicide in 2013 Due to Bullying
During Richie Incognito's infamous Twitter tirade, he tweet about an alleged Jonathan Martin suicide attempt:
FACT: Jonathan Martin told me he thought about taking his own life in MAY 2013 b/c he wasn't playing well. Told me he felt worthless.
On Page 2 of the Wells report, Martin's suicidal thoughts were made public and were said to be the recurrence of depression he experienced after being bullied earlier in his life:
According to Martin, in middle school and high school he was the victim of bullying, which diminished his self-confidence and self-esteem and contributed to what he self-diagnosed as periodic bouts of depression during his teenage years. Martin claims that the depression he experienced in high school recurred as a result of mistreatment by his teammates on the Dolphins and that on two occasions in 2013 he even contemplated suicide.
(The report stated that it had the "express permission" of Martin and his family to write the above.)
This revelation may have a profound impact on how the NFL decides to act on this serious matter and will likely lead to extreme sensitivity on the bullying subject moving forward.
Dolphins OL Kept 'Fine Book' That Incognito Attempted to Destroy
Outlined on Page 39 of the report, the Dolphins offensive linemen kept a "fine book" in which they jotted down "fines" to teammates for "a variety of trivial and often sophomoric offenses."
While the locker room fines aren't necessarily uncommon in professional sports, the outlandish fines Incognito and others handed down were highlighted in the report:
Incognito and other linemen told Martin that he had been assessed a $10,000 fine for not attending a group trip to Las Vegas in January 2013.
Martin paid with a check, and the $10,000 penalty was said to be the largest paid fine in the book:
Martin reported that he paid the money because he did not believe his teammates were kidding with him and that he felt coerced into paying.
On Page 40, a fine for "Breaking Jmart" was discussed:
Incognito told us that he and other offensive linemen routinely speculated, albeit in jest, about which of their teammates would “break first” in response to taunting, and notations in the fine book substantiate this.
In the hours after Martin left the Dolphins, Incognito recorded in the fine book a $200 penalty against himself for “breaking Jmart,” awarded Garner a $250 bonus for “not cracking first,” and wrote down the following fines for Martin:
The "Breaking Jmart" aspect of the fine book may very well be seen as concrete evidence that Incognito and others were purposely trying to push Martin over the edge with taunting and harassment.
Page 42 described Incognito's attempt to destroy the "fine book":
On November 3, 2013, Incognito wrote nearly identical text messages to
both Pouncey and Garner: “They’re going to suspend me Please destroy the fine book
first thing in the morning.” Fortunately, neither heeded this request.
The report goes on to explain that Incognito simply "wanted the fine book destroyed because he believed it would be 'misunderstood' if it was reviewed outside of the offensive line."
This was one of the more damning developments revealed in the report, especially due to the "Breaking Jmart" fine.
Martin Didn't Fabricate Harassment Claims
Page 4 of the report took a firm stance on allegations made by Martin and Incognito:
We reject the assertion by Incognito that Martin has fabricated claims of harassment after the fact.
On Pages 28 and 29, the report went into further detail about text messages between Martin and Incognito and the ultimate conclusion that was drawn with the help of a doctor:
We credit Martin’s explanations for why he did not, in his November 1st text messages to Incognito, say that he believed his teammates were at fault for harassing him. Dr. Berman informed us that Martin’s outwardly conciliatory responses are consistent with the reaction of a victim of abusive conduct and cautioned that these responses should not lead to the conclusion that Martin has fabricated allegations of harassment.
In fact, according to Dr. Berman, blaming one’s self for being too sensitive and not stopping abuse is often a manifestation of depression.
During his Twitter rant earlier in the week, Incognito wrote:
Dear Jon Martin..... The truth is going to bury you and your entire "camp". You could have told the truth the entire time.
Given that tweet, one could have easily expected that Martin would have looked like less of a victim after the report was released, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
Martin seemed to be in a position in which he felt hopeless. Although he was earnestly trying to fit in with Incognito and the locker room culture in Miami, acting like his teammates was very foreign to him.
Martin Was Not Physically Assaulted in December of 2012
Page 42 referenced a physical attack "that purportedly took place at a Christmas party for the offensive line that Pouncey hosted at his home on December 17, 2012."
This claim was made by Martin's representatives in early November.
According to this report, that allegation was "exaggerated."
Here's Martin's story of the physical incident, which can be found on Page 42:
What began as inoffensive pushing and shoving with Incognito escalated to play boxing and then took a more physically aggressive turn when Incognito took off his shirt, tackled Martin onto a sofa, and began punching him in the body and the face (though not hard enough to bruise or draw blood). Martin stated that he struggled to get Incognito off of him until several of his teammates broke up the scuffle. Martin believed that Incognito was trying to humiliate him in front of his teammates.
The report came to the conclusion that "the encounter went beyond mere roughhousing."
This will definitely help Incognito. The last thing he needed was a confirmed physical attack to go along with his documented verbal abuse to Martin and others.
However, it's impossible to know if Martin or his legal representatives exaggerated this incident. The report clearly stated it didn't believe Martin exaggerated the harassment claims, but apparently the roughhousing wasn't serious enough that Martin believed he was assaulted.
Martin Wasn't the Only Dolphins Player or Employee Who Was Harassed
Martin was not the only Dolphins player or employee who was harassed by Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey.
An individual described as "Player A" was "frequently taunted...with homophobic insults." According to Page 19 of the report, Incognito admitted that Player A "got it 'every day from everybody, high frequency.'”
Also on that page, Incognito and others acknowledged that Player A was "routinely touched by Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey in a mockingly suggestive manner, including on his rear end, while being taunted about his supposed homosexuality."
Page 31 asserts that many Dolphin players believed that offensive lineman Nate Garner "was treated the worst" by Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey.
In the subsection on Page 40 that details the "fine book," the harsh behavior toward Garner was discussed:
[He] was subjected to so much derision that a joke developed that Garner, who owned several guns, might “break” by coming to the Dolphins facility and shooting everyone. On September 30, 2013, for example, Incognito wrote a text message to a former teammate in which he stated: “Nate is on the verge of killing us all.” When asked to elaborate, Incognito explained: “Since we cut [another player] we have been non stop on nate. Even turner is in on it. He looks like he’s about to cry 24/7.”
On Page 81, he confirmed "he was often mocked by Incognito and other starters on the offensive line, in part because he was viewed as having interests that are considered non-traditional for a football player, such as computers and remote-control helicopters, and said that he was known as a 'nerd.'"
He stated "he avoided sending text messages to the offensive line group out of fear that
they would respond with derision."
Treatment of an assistant trainer born in Japan was confirmed to be exceptionally cruel.
Pages 82 and 83 explain:
Martin said that Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey directed racial slurs at the Assistant Trainer, calling him a “Jap,” a “Chinaman” and a “chink”; referred to him as a “dirty communist” or a “North Korean”; made demands such as “give me some water you f-----g chink”; spoke to him in a phony, mocking Asian accent, including asking for “rubby rubby sucky sucky”; and called his mother a "rub and tug masseuse.” Martin also informed us that Incognito and Jerry taunted the Assistant Trainer by saying that they had had sex with his girlfriend.
On December 7, 2012 (the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor), Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey donned traditional Japanese headbands that featured a rising sun emblem and jokingly threatened to harm the Assistant Trainer physically in retaliation for the Pearl Harbor attack.
Jerry and Pouncey "admitted that they repeatedly used racial language toward the Assistant Trainer...and acknowledged their Pearl Harbor Day stunt."
We know now this was far more extensive than Incognito bullying Martin on a consistent basis. The fact that many of the Dolphins offensive linemen were harassing other players and employees could lead to more severe punishment than originally believed.
Martin Did Not Tell Dolphins Management About Harassment
Succinctly put, on Page 37, the report read:
Martin admitted that he never told anyone in the Dolphins organization that his teammates were harassing him. Martin claimed that there is a general code in
football against “snitching” on fellow players and that he did his best to honor that rule.
That will help Joe Philbin and others who were bound to shoulder some blame for not knowing of the bullying that was occurring in the locker room.
However, a "Judas" fining system was created by the offensive linemen:
For example, if Coach Turner, while watching game film footage, criticized a lineman for missing an assignment, and that lineman pointed out that one of his teammates was actually at fault, that lineman might be labeled a “Judas,” which could result in a fellow player imposing a fine. Multiple Dolphins offensive linemen were familiar with the “Judas” concept and told us that Coach Turner had discussed it with them.
Although offensive line coach Jim Turner denied having any knowledge of the fining system, the report wrote "we do not credit Turner’s denials":
Further, Chris Mosley, the Dolphins former assistant offensive line coach, claimed that Turner actually introduced the Judas concept to the offensive linemen.
On Page 38, the report claims:
We accept that the fear of being labeled a “snitch” or a “Judas” played a role in Martin’s decision not to report abuse from his teammates. Martin believed that going to his coaches or other authority figures meant risking ostracism or even retaliation from his fellow linemen. At the same time, we strongly believe that if Martin had reported the harassment to a coach or front office executive (or even his agent), the team may have been able to address his issues before it was too late.
Offensive line coach Jim Turner may be another Dolphins employee who's punished by the NFL because the report explained that he discussed the "Judas" system or even created it.
Also, while many will fault Martin for not reporting the continual harassment to Dolphins management, Page 38 provides logical justification for him not doing so.
Martin Shared His Miserable State with His Parents and Friends
On Page 112, Martin's text message exchange with a friend on May 6, 2013 painted a sad picture about the offensive lineman's mental health:
That day, he sent the following text message to a friend, in which he listed pros and cons of continuing to play football:
-Football games are fun
-I can make a lot of money playing football and be set for life
-I have a legacy that will live after I die
-not many people get to live their childhood dream
-I am the left tackle for the Miami dolphins
-if I quit, I’ll be known as a quitter for the rest of my life
-my legacy at Stanford will be tarnished
-I will never be able to look any coach from my past in the eye
-I hate going in everyday.
-I am unable to socialize with my teammates in their crude manner
-I already have a lot of money. I could travel the world, get my
degree. Then get a real job
-I could lose 70 lbs and feel good about my body
-I won’t die from CTE
-Maybe I’ll start to LIKE myself
-I don’t need to live lavishly. I could live very frugally
-why do I care about these people? All I need is my family.
In April, Martin wrote the following to his mother, which can be found on Page 14:
I figured out a major source of my anxiety. I’m a push over, a people pleaser. I avoid confrontation whenever I can, I always want everyone to like me. I let people talk about
me, say anything to my face, and I just take it, laugh it off, even when I know they are intentionally trying to disrespect me. I mostly blame the soft schools I went to, which fostered within me a feeling that I’m a huge pussy, as I never got into fights. I used to get verbally bullied every day in middle school and high school, by kids that are half my size. I would never fight back, just get sad & feel like no one wanted to be my friend, when in fact I was just being socially awkward. Most people in that situation are witty & quick with sarcastic replies, I never have been. I’m awkward around people a lot of the time because I simply don’t know how to act around them...
Later that day, Martin continued the talk with his mother, which can be found on Page 15:
I care about my legacy as a professional athlete. But I’m miserable currently. A therapist & medication won’t help me gain the respect of my teammates. I really don’t know what to do Mom
Here's another exchange from May 5, which can be found on Page 16. Martin writes:
I’m never gonna change. I got punked again today. Like a little bitch. And I never do anything about it.
I was sobbing in a rented yacht bathroom earlier
Lastly, also on Page 16, this is what Martin wrote to his father on April 29 about the N-word:
People call me a N----r to my face. Happened 2 days ago. And I laughed it off. Because I am too nice of a person. They say terrible things about my sister. I don’t do anything. I suppose it’s white private school conditioning, turning the other cheek
Martin was distinctly bothered by the way his teammates were disrespecting him and family on a consistent basis but seemingly felt trapped because of the repercussions he'd face if he "snitched" to Dolphins coaches or management.
These text messages may have been the saddest report findings.
Martin was laboring through some serious agony inside his own locker room. It had gotten to the point in which he didn't like himself as a person.