Former NFL and Stanford offensive lineman Jonathan Martin has been ordered to stand trial for an Instagram threat to his alma mater that he made in February 2018.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times and Yahoo Sports, among other outlets, a judge ruled Wednesday that Martin should stand trial for the threats he made to his former high school and a number of other individuals who Martin apparently believes have bullied him. For their part, Martin’s legal representatives have steadfastly insisted Martin’s post was, “not a threat … it was a cry for help.”
Martin’s next court appearance is Jan. 30.
Raised in the Los Angeles area, Martin attended prestigious Harvard-Westlake High School in Studio City, where he emerged as a star player on the team’s offensive line. He went on to start at Stanford and then for the Miami Dolphins, where he eventually had a public conflict with fellow offensive lineman Richie Incognito. That spat led to Martin publicly detailing claims of bullying and abuse, which precipitated a suspension and then trade of Incognito and, eventually, Martin’s own trade to another team.
When Martin’s NFL career ended prematurely because of a back injury that would have required surgery, but he later mentioned personal struggles with mental health that included suicide attempts.
Then, 2 1/2 years later, on Feb. 23, 2018, Martin posted an ill-advised Instagram message, “When you’re a bully victim & a coward, your options are suicide, or revenge.” The post tagged Harvard-Westlake, Incognito, another former Dolphins teammate, Mike Pouncey, and a pair of former high school teammates. The post included an image of a shotgun.
The post went live just nine days after the tragic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
On Wednesday, the decision to move forward with a trial for the former lineman was driven in large part by the image sublimated behind the text of Martin’s post.
“It does say suicide or revenge,” Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Shellie Samuels told the New York Daily News. “That does sound equivocal on its face. However, on the photo, there are 19 shells. Suicide would take one shot. Nineteen shells is a mass shooting, killing more than one person, revenge. I think that’s unequivocal enough (under the law) to be a criminal threat.”
It should be noted that Martin has also been charged with one count of carrying a loaded firearm in public.
Martin’s story continues to paint the picture of a troubled but talented soul, and someone who struggled both to fit in and accept himself in an environment where he wasn’t part of the statistical majority. Only time will tell if his social post last year will land him in jail or receiving more mental health treatment, whether his post was intended as a threat or a call for help.