Embattled Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito said the dramasurrounding him and teammate Jonathan Martin "isn't an issue of bullying" in hisfirst interview since being suspended by the Dolphins a week ago.
"I've taken stuff too far," Incognito told FOXSports in an interview thataired Sunday. "I didn't intend to hurt him."
Martin left the Dolphins nearly two weeks ago and, through his attorney, saidhe could no longer handle sustained harassment from inside the locker room,particularly from Incognito. Martin's camp provided the transcript of avoicemail Incognito left for Martin in April in which Incognito used a racialepithet and vulgar language.
Incognito told FOXSports' Jay Glazer that the specific voicemail was intendedto "shock" Martin, who had skipped a voluntary offseason workout.
"I wanted him to call me back," Incognito said. "When the words are put incontext, I understand why eyebrows got raised. But people don't understand howJon and I communicate with each other."
Incognito's comments to FOXSports are in line with what Dolphins players toldreporters throughout this week - that Incognito and Martin were friends, and thetype of friends that often used outrageous language with each other in a jokingmanner. Incognito said Martin had previously sent him a message in which Martinwrote he would "murder your whole [expletive] family," that Incognito knew was ajoke.
Incognito, who said he was "embarrassed" by his words and his actions, didnot defend his usage of the racial slur, though he did say it is a word that iscommonly used in the Dolphins' locker room.
"I'm not a racist. And to judge me by that one word is wrong," Incognitosaid. "In no way shape or form is it ever acceptable for me to use that wordeven if it's friend to friend on a voicemail. I regret that."
Incognito provided FOXSports with the contents of his phone, including 1,142text messages exchanged with Martin in the past year as proof of theirfriendship. The two teammates exchanged messages as recently as Nov. 1, the dayafter Miami beat Cincinnati, and Incognito said that if he were to see Martinnow, he would hug him. If Martin were to tell Incognito that his feelings werehurt, Incognito said he would apologize to both Martin and Martin's family.
"My actions were coming from a place of love," Incognito said. "No matter howbad and how vulgar it sounds, that's how we communicate, that's how ourfriendship was, and those are the facts and that's what I'm accountablefor."