With Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin speaking out for the first time this week about the alleged bullying that prompted him to leave the team midseason, Richie Incognito is going on the offensive.
Incognito, a former Dolphins lineman and the primary target of the NFL’s investigation into Miami’s locker-room culture, has hired public relations firm Sitrick & Co. to “mount a public defense and rebut allegations he bullied Martin,” FOX News reports.
Incognito’s representatives argue that Martin only left the team and brought forth claims of bullying when he was in danger of losing his starting job, and that the seemingly offensive text messages Incognito sent to Martin (which have since gone public) were simply examples of crude humor between friends.
“The coarse and unacceptable comments and text messages that were sent to Jonathan Martin were of the same poor taste as those sent by him,” Incognito’s attorney, Mark Schamel, said in a statement to FOX News. “All of these communications were provided to Ted Wells and the NFL investigation. What they show is banter between friends, not bullying.”
Schamel went on to detail several vulgar and violent text messages sent from Martin to Incognito. He also accuses Martin of “hiding behind false allegations” as a way of dealing with his poor performance on the field.
In an interview with Tony Dungy for NBC this week, Martin said he played along with Incognito in an attempt to fit in with his fellow offensive lineman. Martin also said he did not approach Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin about his treatment because he didn’t want to be viewed as a “snitch.”
“I was trying with all my being to do whatever I could to be a member of this culture and of the offensive line,” Martin said.
Wells, who is conducting the NFL’s investigation, is expected to announce his findings some time after the Super Bowl.