Embattled Miami Dolphins player Richie Incognito defended himself against allegations he bullied fellow lineman Jonathan Martin, saying on Sunday he received a text from his team mate claiming “I will murder your whole… family.”
Incognito, who has been suspended indefinitely by the Dolphins while the National Football League conducts an investigation into allegations that the All-Pro guard had threatened Martin and used racial slurs, made the comments during an interview with Fox NFL Sunday.
Incognito apologized for his insensitive remarks but added he was shocked at Martin’s reaction.
“People don’t know how Jon and I communicate with each other,” Incognito told Fox Sports. “I’ve taken stuff too far. I did not intend to hurt him.”
Incognito said he received a text from Martin saying he would murder his family a week before the bullying allegations against him but never thought of it as a serious threat considering the two were team mates and friends. “A week before this went down, Jonathan Martin texted me, ‘I will murder your whole (expletive) family,’” Incognito said. “Now did I think Jonathan Martin was going to murder my family? Not one bit. I know it was coming from a brother. I knew it was coming from a friend. I knew it was coming from a teammate.
“That puts in context how we communicate with one another.”
Incognito’s comments add another twist to what has turned into a disturbing look inside the NFL locker room culture where rookie hazing is part of a player’s rites of passage.
Incognito sparked outrage when a voice mail surfaced last week of him using racial slurs against Martin while threatening to harm him.
“What I was going for …I hadn’t seen my buddy. I wanted to shock him,” said Incognito in an attempt to explain the message. “I wanted him to call me back.
“When the words are put out of context, I understand why a lot of eyebrows are raised. What people don’t know how Jon and I communicate to one another.”
Incognito maintained that he in fact looked out for Martin, who has since left the Dolphins and returned home to California where he is seeking treatment.
“This is an issue of my and Jon’s relationship,” said Incognito. “You can ask anybody in the Miami Dolphins’ locker room, ‘Who had Jon Martin’s back the absolute most?’ and they will undoubtedly tell you me.
“All of this stuff coming out, just, it speaks to the culture of our locker room, it speaks to the culture of our closeness, it speaks to the culture of our brotherhood.
“And the racism, the bad words, um, you know, that’s what I regret most, but that’s a product of the environment, that’s something that we use all the time.”