Jonathan Martin, the former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman who left the team in 2013 after a sustained campaign of bullying by team-mates, revealed on Wednesday how he had considered suicide on numerous occasions.
Martin, who was subjected to repeated racial insults and explicit sexual taunts about his family from Dolphins linemen Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey and John Jerry, wrote a heartfelt and courageous Facebook post describing his unhappy time in the NFL and his struggles with depression. He wrote how “your job leads you attempt to kill yourself on multiple occasions.”
The post was written in the second person, and reflected on a life spent dealing with bullying and depression. He talked about decision his to walk away from the NFL and how “your experiences have taught you to leave your baggage behind.”
Martin wrote: “You were raised in a good household. You know that you are a flawed person. Have done stupid, regrettable things. But you know right from wrong. And consider integrity to be incredibly important. The worst of all, in your mind, is being called a liar.
“Your job leads you to attempt to kill yourself on multiple occasions. Your self-perceived social inadequacy dominates your every waking moment and thought. You are petrified of going to work. You either sleep 12, 14, 16 hours a day when you can, or not at all. You drink too much, smoke weed constantly, have trouble focusing on doing your job, playing the sport you grew up obsessed with.”
Martin, who is black, also reflected on his upbringing and his background. He attended a prestigious prep school in LA and Stanford University, and wrote: “You’re one of just a handful of minorities in elite private schools. You learn to tone down your blackness by becoming shy, introverted, friendly. Neither black people nor white people accept you. You’re always inadequate, always the ‘pussy’, the ‘weird kid who acts white.’”
The NFL investigated Martin’s claims of bullying, and an independent report in 2014 concluded the trio had “engaged in a pattern of harassment” towards Martin, another unnamed Dolphins offensive lineman, and an unnamed assistant trainer.
“The treatment of Martin and others in the Miami Dolphins organization at times was offensive and unacceptable in any environment, including the world professional football players inhabit,” the report found.
Incognito, said to be the ringleader, was suspended by the Dolphins after obscene and abusive voicemails and text messages were leaked to the media. He returned to the NFL this season with the Buffalo Bills, but the scandal sparked a national debate over locker room culture.
Incognito maintains his innocence. “We all knew what happened. We knew there was no harassment and no bullying,” he told Dan Patrick earlier this month.
The Dolphins traded Martin to the San Francisco 49ers prior to the 2014 campaign. A reunion with his former college coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t work out: Harbaugh left the team and Martin was waived in the offseason.
Martin retired earlier this month, opting to end his career instead of undergoing season-ending surgery.
• In the US and Canada, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 08457 90 90 90. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.
This article was written by Tim Hill, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 26th August 2015 22.04 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010