Tackle Jonathan Martin says the persistence of vulgar language around the Miami Dolphins made him feel trapped, so he left the team before lodging allegations at the root of a bullying scandal.
Owner Stephen Ross said he’s proud of the way the franchise responded.
Martin’s comments, which aired Tuesday on NBC Nightly News, came in his first interview since the scandal broke. He left the Dolphins in October and alleged he was harassed daily by teammates, including guard Richie Incognito, who was suspended for the final eight games.
“I’m a grown man,” said Martin, 24. “I’ve been in locker rooms. There’s vulgar language used in locker rooms. One instance doesn’t bother me. It’s the persistence of it. I wish I would have had more tools to solve my situation. I felt trapped, like I didn’t have a way to make it right. It came down to a point where I thought it was best to remove myself from the situation.”
New York attorney Ted Wells began a league investigation in November, and his report will be released after the Super Bowl.
Ross, speaking at a news conference to introduce the Dolphins’ new general manager, Dennis Hickey, said he spoke with the NFL and Wells to get a sense of what will be in the report.
“When it comes out, we’ll do what has to be done,” Ross said. “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.”
Following an 8-8 season tainted by scandal, Ross decided to keep coach Joe Philbin and part with General Manager Jeff Ireland.
Incognito becomes a free agent this winter. When asked if he or the 6-foot-5, 312-pound Martin will play for the Dolphins again, Ross equivocated.
“I don’t believe so — well, I can’t say that,” Ross said, adding with a chuckle, “Therefore I retract that.”
Panthers retain coach
The Carolina Panthers gave coach Ron Rivera a three-year contract extension through 2017-2018.
Rivera started the season on the hot seat after a 1-3 start, but the Panthers rebounded to win 11 of their final 12 regular season games to capture the NFC South championship and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Carolina lost in the divisional playoffs to the San Francisco 49ers.
Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said “the improvement of our team has been reflected in the progress of the record over the last three seasons under Ron and we look forward to building upon that foundation.”
Rivera is 25-23 in three seasons as Panthers coach.
Chris Johnson on mend
Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson says surgery to repair torn meniscus in his knee went perfectly.
Johnson shared an update after his surgery Tuesday on Twitter. He also wrote, “now lets get on the grind.”
The running back said he was having surgery in Pensacola, Fla., with Dr. James Andrews to repair Johnson’s knee. He hurt his knee in a win over San Diego in September.
Johnson didn’t miss a game in 2013 and sat out only one practice late in the season. He rushed for 1,077 yards, the second-lowest total of his six-year career. Johnson is due $8 million in 2014 and has said he won’t take a pay cut.
Also Tuesday, the Titans announced that Mike Sullivan had agreed to join new coach Ken Whisenhunt’s staff as an assistant offensive line coach.
Former Eagles GM dies
Harry Gamble, 83, who coached the Philadelphia Eagles as well as Lafayette, Penn and New Jersey high school teams before retiring as the Eagles’ president, died Tuesday.
In 1981, Gamble joined the Eagles as a volunteer assistant coach under Dick Vermeil and became a full-time staffer a year later, coaching special teams and tight ends. He moved into the front office as director of football operations in 1984, and a year later he was named general manager by owner Leonard Tose.
In 1986, he became team president, a position he held until 1994.
Steelers add assistant
The Pittsburgh Steelers hired former Minnesota Vikings assistant James Saxon as running backs coach.
Saxon replaces Kirby Wilson, who left the Steelers to take the same position in Minnesota.
Saxon’s previous coaching stops include Miami, Kansas City and Buffalo. He played eight seasons in the NFL from 1988-95, running for 533 yards and five touchdowns.