Richie Incognito spoke out for the first time in an extended interview after being suspended a week ago amid allegations he harassed fellow Miami Dolphins player Jonathan Martin. Incognito said he was Martin's best friend on the team, adding that despite the fact he used the n-word in text messages with Martin, he does not consider himself a racist.
In the interview that aired on FOX NFL Sunday, Incognito defended his relationship with Martin, saying "my actions came out of a place of love." He added, "You can ask anyone in the locker room who had Jon Martin's back the most," referring to himself.
He also said that he regrets using the n-word in text messages to Martin, but that he does not consider himself a racist.
"I'm not a racist, and to judge me by that one word is wrong," Incognito said. "In no way shape or form is it ever acceptable for me to use [the n-word]."
After confirming he sent Martin a text message in which he called him a "half-n--- piece of s---," Incognito said, I'm embarrassed by it." He said he was "miffed" by how the controversy erupted after Martin left the team, claiming Martin "showed no signs" of feeling bullied by Incognito or his teammates.
"Jon never showed signs that football was getting to him, that the locker room was getting to him," Incognito said.
Incognito also revealed Martin had sent him text messages that also contained strong language, and shared over a thousand text messages between him and Martin with Fox Sports.
"For instance, a week before this went down, Jonathan Martin texts me on my phone, 'I will murder your whole f-ing family,'" Incognito said. "Now did I think Jonathan Martin was going to murder my family? Not one bit."
Incognito said he knew the message was coming from a friend.
"When the words are put in that context, I understand why a lot of eyebrows get raised, but people don't know how Jon and I communicate to one another," he said.
Martin left the team on October 28 following a prank directed against him in the team cafeteria. Incognito was suspended a week later amid allegations Martin was harassed by teammates, including Incognito.
Incognito also addressed the issue of bullying saying: "This isn’t an issue about bullying, this is an issue of my and Jon’s relationship where I’ve taken stuff too far. I did not intend to hurt him. "
On Thursday, Martin's attorney released a statement saying the Dolphins tackle also endured a "malicious physical attack on him by a teammate."
Martin has been in counseling for emotional issues in California since then and will discuss the case late next week with a special investigator hired by the NFL.
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin has said the team will take action if the NFL investigation finds that changes need to be made.
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