NEW YORK (WFAN) — Former Dolphins offensive lineman Lydon Murtha says Richie Incognito took Jonathan Martin under his wing and is being made a “scapegoat” in Miami’s bullying controversy.
Murtha wrote a column published to Sports Illustrated’s The MMQB website on Thursday in which he opened up about the relationship between Incognito and Martin, who he described as “standoffish and shy.”
Murtha, released four months after the team drafted Martin in 2012, expanded on his thoughts on WFAN’s “Boomer & Carton” show.
“I was the same way,” he told Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton. “When you come into the league, you’ve gotta earn your respect. But then it came to a point where it just became a little unusual, I could say, where he just didn’t want to be a part of our group.”
Murtha was asked if any veteran on the team took Martin under his wing.
“That man was Richie Incognito,” Murtha said. “That’s why I’m so confused with why this is all coming out on him and, you know, it’s almost like he’s a scapegoat. Yeah, he said something he shouldn’t have said. I don’t condone that whatsoever. But if there’s one man on that team who took Martin under his wing — I mean, he played next to him. … Every single time he had an issue, he’d go to Richie for it, and Richie would open-heartedly help him. He would encourage him. He would always be there for him. In meetings, they would talk and he would just help him out and show him what to do.”
Martin left the team Oct. 28 and is said to be receiving counseling at home in Los Angeles. Allegations against Incognito include threatening and racially-charged voicemails and text messages.
“If there was one player that was there for him, it was Richie,” Murtha told Boomer and Carton. “Now was Richie hard on him? Yeah, he was hard on him. But he was hard on me — just as much if not more — and other players. (Martin) was never singled out as what is being portrayed, as he was singled out, bullied. If you really want to know, the truth is I was there. I’ve seen it. I was there for four months, breathing, living it every single day with these guys.”
A report in the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Tuesday said Dolphins coaches asked Incognito to “toughen up” Martin after the offensive lineman skipped two days of voluntary workouts. According to ProFootballTalk.com, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland suggested Martin punch Incognito when Martin’s agent called to discuss the alleged harassment.
Several Dolphins players rushed to defend Incognito on Wednesday, describing a relationship between the linemen that seemed quite friendly.
“That’s why I’m so confused of why this is all coming out and just putting (Incognito) on blast,” Murtha said. “I don’t know if there’s ulterior motives or — I don’t know.”
He later added: “All the players know the truth. It depends on what they can tell you and what they can’t. Richie Incognito is an asset to that team, period.”
Murtha said the much-discussed lunchroom prank on Martin, when his teammates all stood up when he sat down, has been pulled on “everybody” in the league — including coaches. Martin reportedly stormed out of Miami’s practice facility after the practical joke.
Incognito contacted Martin afterward, according to Murtha.
“Richie reached out to him and was like, ‘Are you OK? I mean, what happened? You just stormed out.’ And (Martin) said ‘It has nothing to do with you, don’t worry about it. Trust me. I need some alone time.’
“And then all of a sudden these messages come out of Richie’s voicemail and all of this other stuff. Like I said before, it’s so confusing why all of the sudden this message is being played that was done way in advance. They’ve joked about it before. It’s just saved on his phone and now all of the sudden (Martin is) bringing it out like it was just said.”
The NFL has tasked New York lawyer Ted Wells with its investigation into the bullying matter.
Murtha admitted that, yes, Martin and others were heckled by Incognito. But the embattled offensive lineman would also “do anything for this kid to help him out.”
“I just wanted to make one more point clear, is how the business was handled,” Murtha said. “It’s a brotherhood, it’s an in-house type deal. If you have a problem with your spouse, your brother, your son, whatever it is, it’s handled inside the house. And that’s where the big mistake was. He left the facility. He never once told Richie or anybody else that he had a problem. He never told the coach that he had a problem. He never went to anybody and told them that he had a problem. And then he leaves the facility and goes straight to the media.”
Murtha also touched on the $15,000 that Martin paid for his fellow linemen to go to Las Vegas. Here’s what he wrote in The MMQB: “Every year, as tradition, the offensive line goes on a big Vegas trip. Everything is paid for in advance, from hotels to a private jet to show tickets. Martin originally verbally committed to the trip, then later backed out after everything was booked. Now, if you can’t go because of an emergency then it’s okay, but to say you’re going and then decide you don’t want to spend the money later? Everything was paid for, and then when it was time to pay up he didn’t want to go anymore. You don’t do that to your brothers. The veterans who paid for it, including Incognito and others, asked for Martin’s share, and he gave it to them. End of story.”
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