(AP) AP sources: Martin considered quitting football
By STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer
Before Miami Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin left the team saying he was bullied, he told multiple people that he was considering quitting football, two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
One of the people said Martin considered giving up the sport because he was mistreated by other offensive linemen. That person said Martin, who sought counseling for emotional issues, now plans to continue playing. Both people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the organization has said little about Martin’s departure.
After practice Wednesday, several players questioned why Martin left and supported guard Richie Incognito, who was suspended by the team and was accused of being Martin’s main tormentor.
Last week, Martin’s agent said the second-year player from Stanford was harassed almost daily by teammates in his rookie year and the hazing continued into this season. That prompted an NFL investigation, and the Dolphins suspended Incognito, who sources said sent Martin threatening and racist messages during the offseason.
Commissioner Roger Goodell appointed a New York lawyer with experience in sports cases to investigate the case.
The controversy attracted more than 100 reporters and cameramen to the Dolphins’ complex Wednesday, and when the throng entered the locker room after practice, a player pushed the button on a boom box sitting at Incognito’s stall.
Circus music began to play.
Then the Dolphins, clearly weary of the circus atmosphere, opened up. They passionately defended Incognito and insisted they didn’t see the blowup coming. Most said Martin and Incognito were friends.
The 24-year-old Martin was briefly hospitalized after he left the team and is now with his family in California.
Tannehill said he was shocked when Martin departed.
Several players said Martin and Incognito were close.
Guard John Jerry said he never heard Incognito use the racist term included in one voicemail and wouldn’t have objected anyway.
The 30-year-old Incognito was kicked off his team at Nebraska, and has long had a reputation as one of the NFL’s dirtiest players. But he has been universally praised by his teammates this week.
For Martin, the final straw was a lunchroom prank at the team complex, and he then left the squad. Tannehill and Jerry said the same prank has been pulled on many other players.
Hijinks are especially common among the offensive linemen, Clabo said.
AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.