Miami Dolphins lineman Jonathan Martin speaks to members of the media outside the office of the NFL lawyer investigating the team's bullying scandal, Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, in New York. The league is trying to gather information about the harassment Martin says he was subjected to by teammate Richie Incognito. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Friday, November 15, 2013 8:45 pm
Dolphins' Martin ends silence, meets NFL counsel
By RICK FREEMANAP Sports Writer
He would say this: He still wants to play in the NFL.
Martin - in town because the league is trying to gather information about the bullying he says he was subjected to by teammate Richie Incognito - arrived at the Manhattan office building of special investigator Ted Wells on Friday morning, and didn't emerge until shortly after sunset. Mobbed by media, he stood in the camera lights and read a statement.
"Although I went into great detail with Mr. Ted Wells and his team, I do not intend to discuss this matter publicly at this time," Martin said. "This is the right way to handle the situation.
"Beyond that, I look forward to working through the process and resuming my career in the National Football League."
After that, he and attorney David Cornwell went back into the building, later leaving via a side exit.
The crowd outside the building drew attention from office workers and tourists all day. Some even stopped to watch and wait, and most seemed familiar with Martin's story.
Even Miami-based hip-hop artist Rick Ross came by. His record label is located in the building across the street.
Incognito has acknowledged leaving a voicemail for Martin in April in which he used a racial slur, threatened to kill his teammate and threatened to slap Martin's mother. Incognito has said he regrets the racist and profane language, but said it stemmed from a culture of locker-room "brotherhood," not bullying.
Incognito is white and Martin is black. Teammates, both black and white, have said Incognito is not a racist, and they've been more supportive of the veteran guard than they have of Martin.
Incognito has been suspended by the Dolphins. He filed a grievance Thursday against the team over his suspension, and has said his conduct was part of the normal locker-room environment.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross also plans to meet with Martin, who said Friday that he will indeed get together with the Dolphins' front office. On Monday, Ross said two committees would examine the locker-room culture. Players have been virtually unanimous in saying it doesn't need to be changed.
At Dolphins practice Friday, long snapper John Denney, the team's players' union representative, was asked about problems.
"I can't say I saw it firsthand because I'm not an offensive lineman, and I'm not in their offensive line room. I can tell you from my perspective, and having been in this locker room, I never saw it coming," he said. "I can say that. It was a surprise to me. There did not seem to be an increase in behavioral problems. It's been the same here my entire career."
Coach Joe Philbin also talked to reporters but kept his focus on football.
"I believe in the guys we have in the locker room," he said. "I believed in them before this all took place, before all this scrutiny came upon us.
"And I believe in them today."
While Martin was in New York, and long before he spoke, Incognito's grievance was a talking point in the locker room some 1,300 miles away.
"He's got to do what he's got to do. I'm never going to tell somebody how to run their life," wide receiver Mike Wallace said. "You got to get your money, man. I don't really have too much to say about it."
Martin alleges he was harassed daily by teammates, including Incognito, and the case has raised questions about job security for Philbin, his assistants and general manager Jeff Ireland.
Philbin won a vote of confidence this week from Ross, but that could change depending on the findings of Wells, who was brought into the situation last week. Wells is expected in Miami next week to talk with Dolphins players, coaches and staff.
Wells will determine the role of Philbin, his staff and Miami management in the case, and his report will be made public. One issue is whether anyone on the coaching staff ordered Incognito to "toughen up" Martin, a second-year tackle from Stanford who became a starter as a rookie but played poorly at times.
Martin left the team two weeks ago and has been with family in California undergoing counseling for emotional issues.
Center Mike Pouncey missed practice Friday because of an illness and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against San Diego, raising the possibility the Dolphins will be without a third starting offensive lineman.
The case inspired a national debate about workplace bullying and attracted a daily throng of 100 media members or more at the Dolphins complex. In Manhattan, both CNN and Fox News Channel were on hand outside the meeting.
The Dolphins (4-5) have slumped after a 3-0 start, and on Sunday they play at home for the first time since the scandal broke.
"All we have to do," defensive end Cameron Wake said, "is concentrate on playing the game on Sunday."
AP Sports Writer Steven Wine and freelancer Sandra Harwitt in Miami contributed to this report.