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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Jonathan Martin in interview: I never intended to be crusader against culture of football

Jonathan Martin Tony DungyJonathan Martin told Tony Dungy in their sit-down interview that he “never intended to be a crusader against the culture of football” and that he is eager to continue his career.

NBC Sports played the full interview between Dungy and Martin on Wednesday, and it lasted for around 20 minutes. The clip above is just one small piece of the interview, but the talking points from Martin were consistent throughout the interview.

Martin did not really get into details of the bullying he experienced with the Miami Dolphins, instead choosing to refer to the text messages and voicemails that were reported. He said there wasn’t one specific thing that bothered him, but rather the persistence of disrespectful and crude behavior over the longterm that got to him. He told Dungy he felt “singled out” and that the way he was treated was not normal. He even says he spoke to players on other teams in the NFL whom he knew and the consensus was that his experience was abnormal.

Some of the mistreatment that did not sit well with Martin were “comments of a racial nature” that he endured, as well as sexual comments about his sister and mother.

Martin believes the culture with the Miami Dolphins was problematic and uncommon in the NFL. He vouched for himself as a competitor and player and said he was viewed as a leader and great teammate throughout his career, especially at Stanford. He used part of the interview to sell himself to potential NFL teams who might consider adding him.

Dungy mentioned after the interview that GMs he’s spoken with believe Martin is good enough and talented enough to play in the NFL, but they want to know what happened in Miami and that they can be sure that they don’t have to walk on egg shells around him.

Martin doesn’t think he’ll have an issue being in a different environment with a different team. He even says he understands hazing and doesn’t have a problem with normal hazing such as little pranks and haircuts, but he takes exception with it when it becomes disrespectful or personal attacks.

Dungy not so subtly blamed the coaches for creating/allowing an environment where a player didn’t feel comfortable enough to speak with them about his problems on the team. Martin said he tried really hard to be friends with his teammates and didn’t want to go to a coach because he felt he’d be viewed as a snitch.

And to those who think Martin is mentally weak, he says he actually loves hostile environments and playing football on the road. It’s just that his experience on this particular team in this particular locker room was an offensive and uncomfortable one.

I can believe and understand everything Martin is talking about and have gone through similar situations in sports and other team environments. I do think the Dolphins had a poor locker room culture that probably was different from many other teams. But even if the treatment of Martin was poor, I think the big issue is he didn’t handle it the right way. I think there are many other ways he could have dealt with his issues rather than just walking out on the team. Then again, maybe he felt uncomfortable with most of the people in power in the organization. Remember that ex-GM Jeff Ireland supposedly recommended to Martin’s agent that Martin physically confront Richie Incognito? Yeah, it’s no wonder Martin felt “trapped.”



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