The lawyer for one of the football players at the center of an NFL bullying scandal said Thursday night this client “endured harassment that went far beyond the traditional locker room hazing.”
David Cornwell, who is representing former Miami Dolphins lineman Jonathan Martin, said Martin “made a difficult choice” to leave the team late last month, after Martin was reportedly bullied and harassed by teammate Richie Incognito. Incognito has been suspended from the team pending an investigation, and while many of Incognito’s teammates have defended him, the controversy has embroiled the NFL in a debate about its locker room culture.
“For the entire season and a half that he was with the Dolphins, he attempted to befriend the same teammates who subjected him to the abuse with the hope that doing so would end the harassment,” Cornwell said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. “This is a textbook reaction of victims of bullying. Despite these efforts, the taunting continued.”
Pushing back against reports that coaches had asked Incognito to “toughen up” Martin after the latter missed a team workout, Cornwell said: “Jonathan Martin’s toughness is not at issue. The issue is Jonathan’s treatment by his teammates.”
Dolphins players at practice this week said that they never witnessed locker room behavior crossing the line, and that the team is focused on its upcoming game on Monday in Tampa Bay.