Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin was subjected to "a pattern of harassment" that included racial slurs and vicious sexual taunts about his mother and sister by three teammates, according to a report released Friday by NFL investigator Ted Wells.
The 144-page report said Richie Incognito, who was suspended by the team in November, and fellow offensive linemen John Jerry and Mike Pouncey harassed Martin. Another offensive lineman and an assistant trainer also routinely came under attack, the investigation found. Neither was named in the report.
Martin's agent, Kenneth Zuckerman, said his client feels "vindicated" by the report and plans to resume his football career.
"He feels a great sense of relief," Zuckerman said. "Jonathan Martin is a great man, and he's only shown me that he is very honest since the day I met him. He loves football and is eager to get back on the field, regardless of what team he plays for."
Incognito's attorney, Mark Schamel, released a statement saying Wells' report was "replete with errors" and said Martin "was never bullied by Richie Incognito or any member of the Dolphins' offensive line."
Wells said his inquiry found Martin was taunted and ridiculed almost daily. After Martin left the team in October, Incognito boasted about "breaking Jmart" in a notebook the linemen used to tally fines and bonuses among themselves. When the investigation began, Incognito asked another player to destroy the book, but investigators obtained it.
Incognito took to Twitter on Friday afternoon.
Pleeeeease Stop The Hate. Happy Valentines Day :)
- Richie Incognito (@68INCOGNITO) February 14, 2014
The other harassed player was "subjected to homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching," while the assistant trainer, who was born in Japan, was subjected to racial slurs.
"It was not difficult to conclude that the assistant trainer and Player A were harassed, but the questions raised in Martin's case were more complex, nuanced and difficult," the report said.
In the case of Player A, the report said, Dolphins offensive line coach Jim Turner "was aware of the running 'joke' that Player A was gay, and on at least one occasion, he participated in the taunting."
"Around Christmas 2012, Coach Turner gave the offensive linemen gift bags that included a variety of stocking stuffers. The gifts included inflatable female dolls for all of the offensive linemen except Player A, who received a male 'blow-up' doll," the report said.
"According to Incognito, Player A was a 'good kid' who 'took it well' and never told his teammates to stop. In Incognito's eyes, jokes about Player A's sexuality were all harmless fun."
The report continued, "With the recent announcement by Michael Sam, a defensive lineman from the University of Missouri who is expected to be selected in the 2014 NFL draft, that he is gay, it is even more urgent that a tolerant atmosphere exist throughout the league. The frequent use of homophobic insults undermines this goal."
The report rejected suggestions that Martin, who left the team amid allegations of bullying and harassment, made up the claims. Incognito was ultimately suspended for the final eight games of the season -- two without pay -- while the NFL investigated the situation.
Incognito ranted at Martin on Twitter on Wednesday, telling him, "The truth is going to bury you and your entire 'camp'. You could have told the truth the entire time." Eight days earlier, Incognito tweeted that he supported Martin "100 percent in his return to football in 2014."
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin and the front office were not aware of the players' mistreatment of Martin, Player A or the assistant trainer, the report determined.
"After interviewing Coach Philbin at length, we were impressed with his commitment to promoting integrity and accountability throughout the Dolphins organization -- a point echoed by many players. We are convinced that had Coach Philbin learned of the underlying misconduct, he would have intervened promptly to ensure that Martin and others were treated with dignity," the report said.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross recently said he doesn't expect either Incognito or Martin to return to Miami next season. Incognito is an unrestricted free agent, and Martin has two years left on his contract but likely will be traded or released.
"I now have had a chance to read the report and obviously, the language that was used and the behavior as described is deeply disturbing," Ross said in a statement Friday. "Although the report commended Joe Philbin's commitment to promoting integrity and accountability throughout the Dolphins organization, I told Ted Wells personally during my visit with him that we are committed to addressing the issues outlined in this report. We must work together towards a culture of civility and mutual respect for one another. It is important to me, important to Coach Philbin and important to the entire Dolphins organization."
Although Wells concluded that Martin was abused by three teammates, he qualified some of the assertions in Martin's account.
Evaluating Martin's claims was difficult, "given his mental health issues, his possible heightened sensitivity to insults and his unusual, 'bipolar' friendship with Incognito," the report said.
"Nonetheless, we ultimately concluded that Martin was indeed harassed by Incognito, who can fairly be described as the main instigator."
In a statement emailed by a league spokesman, the NFL did not make any mention of possible punishment stemming from the case. Instead, the league confirmed it had received Wells' report and said it appreciated the Dolphins' cooperation with the investigation.
Wells, retained by the league Nov. 6, said he does not intend to comment further on a case that prompted a national debate about hazing and workplace bullying.
Incognito later tweeted his feelings on the Wells report Friday night:
You could not define me in 144 years let alone 144 pages Mr Wells. Thank you for your hard work and dedication.
- Richie Incognito (@68INCOGNITO) February 15, 2014
Martin told investigators Incognito joked that he and other teammates would rape Martin's sister, a medical student none of them had ever met. Incognito also used racial slurs with Martin, made jokes about slavery and routinely demeaned Martin for not being "black enough."
The report said Pouncey and Jerry followed Incognito's lead.
"To a great extent, Incognito dictated the culture," the report said. "We doubt that matters would have gotten so out of hand had Incognito not set a tone on the offensive line that made extremely vulgar taunting a typical form of communication."
The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Martin abruptly left the team Oct. 28. He was briefly hospitalized, and then joined his family in California and underwent counseling for emotional issues. Incognito expressed regrets about the racial and profane language he used with Martin but said it stemmed from a culture of locker-room "brotherhood," not bullying.
Martin has said he tried to be friends with Incognito. The two traded more than 1,000 text messages in a year's span, and the teasing and vulgar banter went both ways, with references to sex, drugs, violence and bawdy behavior, often in a jocular tone.
"When we asked the NFL to conduct this independent review, we felt it was important to take a step back and thoroughly research these serious allegations," Ross said. "As an organization, we are committed to a culture of team-first accountability and respect for one another."
During the investigation, Wells reviewed thousands of voluntarily produced documents, including text messages, emails and team policies, while also completing more than 100 interviews. Wells talked with Dolphins players, coaches and front-office personnel.
The report said text messages Martin sent to his parents and others before he left the team verified Martin's claim that harassment at the hands of his teammates caused him "significant emotional distress."
However, the report concluded that Martin's teammates didn't intend to drive the left tackle from the team or cause him lasting emotional distress.
"Please don't stereotype NFL players for what's going on with Miami. That type of stuff is not common in other locker rooms," he wrote.
Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, ESPN.com Dolphins reporter James Walker and The Associated Press was used in this report.