New Panthers OT Jonathan Martin focused on future, has moved past bullying scandal

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jonathan Martin made it clear on Monday that he didn’t want to talk about the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal two years ago in which he was the victim.

He made it clear that his focus was on revitalizing his career with the Carolina Panthers, who claimed the offensive tackle off waivers on Friday after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers.

He made it clear that he was moving forward when asked about the past two years, which he described as "a whirlwind."

He made it clear he didn’t want to discuss guard Richie Incognito -- one of three former Miami teammates cited for harassing him in the NFL’s highly publicized investigation -- being back in the league with the Buffalo Bills.

"That is a situation for the past," Martin said during a conference call with reporters. "I don’t think about it. I try not to catch the headlines, positive or negative. I’m focused on what I can do for my career moving forward."

Martin was consistent with this theme throughout, beginning with when he was asked how he put the scandal behind him.

"You know, honestly I haven’t given it much thought," Martin said. "I’ve just been looking forward to each day. And now, getting here, I’m looking forward to being a member of the Panthers and to compete and play in this great game, and do whatever I can to help this team win."

You can’t blame Martin for wanting to avoid the subject that had such an impact on his early NFL career. You can’t blame him for not wanting to discuss the racial slurs he claimed were used against him, threats of rape to his sister and mother, and bullying that included talk that he was not "black enough."

He tried to put all that behind him after being traded to San Francisco last offseason. The reunion with his former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh lasted only a season, as Harbaugh left San Francisco to become the head coach at Michigan.

The 49ers waived Martin on Thursday after he had appeared in 15 games last season, starting nine at right tackle.

The Panthers were quick to claim Martin and his $1 million 2015 salary. That they pride themselves on having a strong locker room and have a need for depth and experience at tackle made Martin a relatively inexpensive investment.

"I’ve only heard good things about the organization," Martin said. "They’ve had success these past two years. There’s some things they want to do on the O-line, so it’s a good opportunity for me to get another crack and this thing."

The Panthers signed Michael Oher, released by Tennessee, to fill the void at left tackle once the decision was made not to re-sign starter Byron Bell.

Mike Remmers, who finished last season strong as the starting right tackle, is back. So is Nate Chandler, who was the starting right tackle before a late-season knee injury landed him on injured reserve.

Though most of Martin’s 32 career starts have been on the right side, he also can play on the left.

"I’m not sure where I’ll land," said Martin, who hasn’t spoken to his new position coach yet. "It’s a new opportunity, but I have confidence in myself on both sides."

One of the claims against Martin during the bullying scandal was that he wasn’t tough enough. He didn’t sound soft when asked if his goal was to become a starter at Carolina.

"If your goal isn’t to be the best every time you step on the field, then you have no business being in this business," Martin said. "So I’m looking forward to competing with these guys and show them what I can do."

Martin, 25, didn’t want to talk about the past, but he couldn’t talk enough about the opportunity to compete moving forward.

"At this point in my career I have to work on consistency," he said. "I have experience starting in this league so far. I’m still a young player. I’ve been lucky enough to be healthy so far.

"I’m looking forward to maximizing my potential as I continue to get better every day."