On the Miami Dolphins’ practice field, players would simulate having sex with a teammate’s sister. In the team’s hallways and meeting rooms, racist epithets and homophobic language flowed. Offensive-line coach Jim Turner gave a player an inflatable male doll as a Christmas stocking stuffer.
Many of the Dolphins knew, but did not say or do anything.
It was, apparently, part of the job. And because of it, a young player, Jonathan Martin, quit the team and debated giving up on his career — driven away under such psychological duress he twice considered committing suicide.
In a 144-page report commissioned by the league to explore allegations of bullying in the Miami organization, the life of players was depicted in extraordinary and often horrific detail, evoking “Lord of the Flies” more than the highlight reels that saturate autumn Sundays.
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It concluded three offensive linemen — Richie Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey — “engaged in a pattern of harassment” toward Martin, another young offensive lineman and an assistant trainer that included improper touching and sexual taunting.
The verbal and physical abuse was widespread and at times celebrated, according to Ted Wells, a defense lawyer who was hired by the league in November to investigate the scandal that engulfed the league.
The report, released Friday, was based largely on emails, text messages and more than 100 interviews conducted with Miami personnel, from players to coaches, management to support staff.
Wells’ conclusion was striking in its restraint: “We encourage the creation of new workplace conduct rules and guidelines that will help ensure that players respect each other as professionals and people.”
Martin’s agent, Kenneth Zuckerman, said his client feels “vindicated.”
At the end of a week when draft prospect Michael Sam’s coming out revived the debate about whether the league was ready for an openly gay player, the report’s descriptions of homophobic comments and bullying seem to suggest the NFL has a long way to go.
Martin left the Dolphins on Oct. 28. Incognito was suspended indefinitely Nov. 3, amid allegations he bullied Martin.
More than 1,000 of their text messages, from October 2012 to November 2013, were made public at the end of January.
In five text messages sent Jan. 6, 2013, Incognito insulted Martin with homophobic language and referred to Martin’s sister in sexually graphic terms.
According to the report, both of Martin’s parents are African-American; Incognito is white; Pouncey is biracial and Jerry is black. Martin said Jerry and Pouncey criticized him for not being “black enough.”
Incognito’s attorney, Mark Schamel, released a statement calling Wells’ report “replete with errors.”
• Prosecutors charged retired safety Darren Sharper, 38, with sexually assaulting and drugging two women in California and disclosed he is under investigation in connection with five more drug-related sexual assaults in Nevada, Louisiana and Arizona.
Sharper’s arraignment was postponed until Thursday at the request of his lawyers, who said he would be exonerated.
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