In his first sit-down interview since being suspended, Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito admitted he has "taken stuff too far" but insisted that the controversy swirling around the team "isn't an issue about bullying."
The suspended Dolphins guard sat down with Jay Glazer of FOX Sports on Saturday to discuss the scandal involving him and teammate Jonathan Martin. A second-year offensive tackle, Martin abruptly left the Dolphins on Oct. 28 to receive treatment for emotional distress. Incognito, a nine-year NFL veteran once named the NFL's dirtiest player in a poll of his peers, was subsequently suspended by the Dolphins on Nov. 2 for unspecified misconduct related to alleged mistreatment of Martin.
"This isn't an issue about bullying," Incognito told Glazer in the interview that aired on Sunday. "This is an issue of my and John's relationship. I've taken stuff too far. I did not intend to hurt him."
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Incognito's suspension came amid multiple reports that he had sent threatening voice and text messages to Martin that included racial slurs. As reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN, Incognito, who is white, referred to Martin, who is bi-racial, as a "half n----- piece of [expletive]" in a voicemail left in April 2013.
“Hey, wassup, you half n—– piece of [expletive] . . . I saw you on Twitter, you been training ten weeks. [I want to] [expletive] in your [expletive] mouth. [I'm going to] slap your [expletive] mouth. [I'm going to] slap your real mother across the face (laughter). [Expletive] you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.”
Incognito admitted to leaving this message but claimed he used such threatening language to "shock" Martin and because he "wanted him to call me back." Attempting to show that such language was commonplace among teammates, Incognito quoted a message that Martin allegedly recently left for him.
"People don't know how John and I communicate to one another," Incognito explained. "For instance, a week before this went down, Jonathan Martin texts me on my phone: 'I will murder your whole effing family.' Now, did I think Jonathan Martin was going to murder my family? Not one bit."
After the bulk of the interview aired on Sunday, Glazer reported that he had seen the text message Incognito claimed Martin sent.
"When I see that voicemail, when I see those words come across the screen, I'm embarrassed by it," Incognito said after he presented with a transcript of the offensive voicemail he left for Martin. "I'm embarrassed by my actions. But what I want people to know is, the way Jonathan and the rest of the offensive line and how our teammates, how we communicate it's vulgar. It's not right."
In addition to insisting he had a strong friendship with Martin despite the language used in that voicemail, Incognito insisted that his use of a racial slur did not make him a racist.
"I'm not a racist and to judge me by that one word is wrong," Incognito contended. "In no way shape or form is it ever acceptable for me to use that word, even if it's friend to friend on a voicemail."