Offensive lineman Jonathan Martin wants to return to the NFL, he said in an interview aired Wednesday where he claimed that racial, aggressive and sexually charged comments all played a role in his departure from the Miami Dolphins.
Martin, who played at Stanford before being drafted by the Dolphins in 2012, also said he was not the only victim of hazing in the Dolphins’ locker room.
“There are other people that got it too,” Martin said. “I can’t say why I may have gotten more.”
Martin told his side of the story to former NFL coach Tony Dungy, now an analyst for NBC, which aired portions of the interview Tuesday and Wednesday. Dungy is part of a committee assigned by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to review the team’s code of conduct, and said on NBC’s “Today” show that he has spoken with three general managers who believe Martin will have the chance to play again.
“They all said he’s a good player. He’ll get an opportunity,” Dungy said. “But they’re all afraid of the scrutiny that comes with it. He’s got to get to the right environment, not a place like the Miami locker room was.”
Among the allegations Martin made in his interview with Dungy: — That teammates directed comments of racial and aggressive nature toward him, as well as sex-related comments about his mother and sister.
— That he talked to members of the team’s coaching staff about the situation, but stopped short of meeting with Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin.
— That he tried to be friends with fellow offensive lineman Richie Incognito, who was suspended for the final eight games for his role in the matter.
— That he contacted friends on other NFL teams, and that they agreed the level of hazing he alleged to have taken place with the Dolphins exceeded what’s typical in a locker-room culture.
“I have no problem with the normal hazing that you see in the NFL, get a haircut, stuff like that, little pranks,” Martin said. “But of a personal, attacking nature, I don’t think there’s any place for that.”
The scandal overshadowed much of the Dolphins’ season.
Martin left the Dolphins in October amid allegations he was harassed by teammates, including Incognito. Martin told Dungy that he “felt trapped, like I didn’t have a way to make it right,” and said he left the team out of concerns for his health and well-being.
New York attorney Ted Wells began an investigation ordered by the NFL in November, and his report will be released after the Super Bowl. Ross said he has an idea of what will be in the report, though has not revealed any specifics.
“When it comes out, we’ll do what has to be done,” Ross said Tuesday, when the team introduced Dennis Hickey as its new general manager. “In my mind, I know what direction we’re going. … The respect that we gained by how we handled the situation that took place here says a lot about this organization and the people that are running it.”
Hickey replaced Jeff Ireland, whom the team parted with following an 8-8 season. Incognito will be a free agent this offseason, and Martin is not expected to return to the Dolphins.
“I understand opportunities in the NFL are fleeting,” Martin said. “I’m hopeful that I get another opportunity and I’m going to make the most of it because this is what I love to do. I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t playing football.”
Dungy said he reviewed text messages and voice mails that Martin received.
“It was a tough, tough situation. … I couldn’t picture anything like this going on in the locker rooms that I was involved in,” Dungy said.
NBC Sports Network plans to air more of Dungy’s interview with Martin on Wednesday night.