Former Miami Dolphins player Jonathan Martin, the victim of a bullying ring lead by teammate Richie Incognito, announced his retirement from the NFL at the end of July. He officially cited a back injury that would have kept him out for the entire 2015 season anyway, but earlier this morning he took to Twitter to explain in depth his lifelong struggle with confidence, depression, acceptance, and his identity. At his lowest he admits that he attempted suicide multiple times while playing in the NFL.
He originally posted the essay on his personal Facebook account and then copied the screenshots to Twitter.
If you don't know... Now you know pic.twitter.com/hE3vimkXdu— Jonathan A. Martin (@J_Martin71) August 26, 2015
Martin is the child of a black father and white mother, one a corporate lawyer, the other a college professor, both Harvard educated. Martin, born in Pittsburgh, moved with his family to Los Angeles when he was 10 years old and attended two highly regarded private schools. That's where he says his struggle first began.
"You're one of just a handful of minorities in elite private schools. You learn to tone down your size & blackness by becoming shy, introverted, friendly, so you won't scare the little rich white kids or their parents," he writes. "Neither black nor white people accept you because they don't understand you. It takes away your self-confidence, your self-worth, your sanity."
Indeed, the Wells Report found that some of the worst bullying Martin experienced in the Dolphins locker room was based on his racial identity. Incognito at one point called Martin a "half-n*****." When that information came out another anonymous black Dolphins player defended Incognito in the Miami Herald, claiming that Incognito was an "honorary" African-American.
Martin admits he always struggled to fit in and feel "cool" and hoped that his gift for football would one day get him there. So it's not a mystery to see why he couldn't deal with Incognito's taunting. He had reached the pinnacle, not just a member of an NFL team, but a starter only to still have teammates viciously poking at his lifelong insecurities.
Martin admits he should have shaken it off, but he just couldn't take it. He left Dolphins camp in the middle of the day in the middle of the 2013 season, setting off the biggest locker-room bullying scandal in NFL history.
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Martin also admits to struggling with several symptoms of depression during his time with the league, including sleeping for up to 16 hours a day or not at all, and overindulging in alcohol and marijuana.
"Your job leads you to attempt to kill yourself on multiple occasions," he writes. "Your self-perceived social inadequacy dominates your every waking moment and thought."
Martin now says he's changed his attitude.
"You let your demons go, knowing that, perhaps, sharing your story can help some other chubby, goofy, socially-isolated, sensitive kid getting bullied in America who feels like no one in the world cares about them," he concludes. "And let them know that they aren't alone."