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High School Coach of Bullied Dolphin: 'He's a Perfect Target'

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Copyright 2013 The Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Palm Beach Post (Florida)
November 6, 2013 Wednesday
FINAL EDITION
SPORTS; Pg. 1C
600 words
'He's a perfect target';
High school coach says bullies attack people with Martin's background.
By Andrew Abramson Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Vic Eumont, who coached Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin in high school, said he was a beloved player in an upscale school who wanted to please everyone -- and that's why some NFL teammates might have targeted Martin in the locker room.

"Bullies usually go after people like him," Eumont said Tuesday. "With his background, he's a perfect target."

Martin, 24, walked out on the Dolphins on Oct. 28. On Sunday, a representative of Martin's complained to the Dolphins that he had been harassed by teammates. The NFL has since launched an investigation.

Eumont coached Martin at Harvard-Westlake School, a private school in Studio City, Calif. Eumont told The Palm Beach Post Martin fit in well in high school and at Stanford, where academics get as much national attention as sports. But when he got to the Dolphins, Eumont said, Martin's personality differed from that of many of his teammates.

"Before, he wasn't around Nebraska, LSU kind of guys," said Eumont, who played guard at Tulane. "He's always been around Stanford, Duke, Rice kind of players.

"He always wanted to make everybody happy and make friends and not be a problem. All of his teachers loved him. All of his teammates loved him.

"His nickname was Moose and he was happy to have that. He was always 'yes or no sir,' do whatever you ask him to do. I can see where somebody that's a bully will take advantage of him, and rather than him say anything, would just hold it inside."

When Eumont got to Harvard-Westlake, "Moose" -- who now is 6-foot-5 and 312 pounds -- was a big kid but lacked strength. Eumont said he had to teach him to be a disciplined player.

Eumont said he hasn't spoken to Martin since he left the Dolphins last week, but he did reach out to Martin's father by email. Eumont said he believes Martin was too embarrassed to approach coaches or other teammates about his problems on the team.

"That's when he turned inward," Eumont said. "Eventually you're going to explode. At least he didn't explode into violence. He exploded by walking away.

"I can see where if somebody was bullying him he would take that to heart, and be concerned and think it was his fault."

It might not help that the player suspended by the Dolphins for his behavior toward Martin is one of the most popular players among teammates. News reports have detailed voice mails and text messages sent from guard Richie Incognito that contained racial slurs and threats.

Many Dolphins players have publicly backed Incognito and said Martin was simply a victim of routine hazing. Eumont said Martin's teammates -- especially those from the nation's biggest college football programs -- might find it hard to understand why a player might walk away in frustration.

"In locker rooms full of Nebraska, LSU, Southern Cal players, Miami players, they'll look at this as a weakness," Eumont said.

"If he makes it through all this, and if he was encouraged to come back, he'd come back with a vengeance. I think he's a guy the Dolphins should work to get back in the fold. I think he can be an excellent player. He's a great kid. If ever there's a kid worth saving, he's one of them."

Both of Martin's parents went to Harvard University and Martin declined a chance to go to Harvard so he could play football at Stanford.

Martin has said he plans to attend Harvard Law School when he's done playing football. If he decides not to return to the NFL, Eumont assumes Martin will head to Harvard.

"I would hope he goes back to football and leaves football on his own terms, as opposed to leaving because of this," Eumont said.

aabramson@pbpost.com Twitter: @abramsonpbp

November 6, 2013

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