Speculation ran wild after reports of Miami Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin slamming his food tray down in the cafeteria and leaving his team after his teammates pulled a practical joke on him. Now it appears that the prank, which involved players getting up to leave when Martin went sit with them, is part of a pattern of what is being described as bullying.
Martin has had to deal with an "abusive environment" during his season-and-a-half with the Dolphins as he has been regularly bullied and teased by his teammates, Fox Sports reports. Some of the teasing reportedly included personal and family insults and the nickname "Big Weirdo."
It may sound like what happens in high school, but these are grown men.
Martin reportedly went "AWOL" after the cafeteria incident and hasn't been seen by the team since. He was inactive for Thursday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals and it's unclear when or if he plans to return to the team.
The NFL Network reported that Martin drove "straight to a hospital with the hope of getting some treatment." He is now believed to be with his family, though details of any potential treatment were not available.
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There is typically minor rookie hazing in the NFL but Fox Sports said this went beyond that for Martin, a 6-foot-5, 312-pound tackle who was Miami's second-round pick out of Stanford last year. Fox Sports' Alex Marvez wrote that it's believed the team knew about the bullying but didn't step in, and the team's veterans didn't step in either. The team didn't comment on whether they knew about the abusive environment.
You'd think that teammates would support one of their own, a player who had started every game at tackle this season before he left the team and missed Thursday night's game. Or that they would at very least act like adults and professionals. It sounds like that was too much to ask of the Dolphins players.