Sources: Miami Dolphins rookies pushed to pay up
11/04/2013 12:01 AM
03/14/2014 2:40 PM
Jonathan Martin’s representatives have notified the Miami Dolphins about allegations of player misconduct within the locker room, spurring the team to ask the NFL to launch an independent inquiry Sunday, and then announcing the indefinite suspension of offensive lineman Richie Incognito.
“We are taking these allegations very seriously and plan to review the matter further,” the Dolphins said. “. . . As an organization, we are committed to a culture of team-first accountability and respect for one another.”
The announcements came late on a busy Sunday, in which new details of the alleged abuse suffered by Martin came to light, and in which a potential new controversy was just beginning.
The latest twist:
Young Dolphins players are under pressure to dig deep into their pockets to pay for veterans’ social outings, a practice that is straining their finances and locker room chemistry, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.
These allegations come on the heels of an ESPN report Sunday morning that Incognito pressured Martin into paying $15,000 for an unofficial team vacation to Las Vegas — a trip that Martin, an offensive tackle, didn’t even join.
The Dolphins said Sunday night they suspended Incognito indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team.
According to a statement from the team, “We believe in maintaining a culture of respect for one another, and as a result we believe this is in the best interests of the organization at this time.”
One young defensive player, whose privacy the Miami Herald is protecting, is on his way to going broke because he has been unable to say no to the older players, a source said.
“Everything tastes better when rookies pay for it,” veteran defensive end Jared Odrick wrote on Twitter over the weekend. “Yes, the bill would make you sick.”
Younger players were handed the tab for a $30,000 team dinner, according to a source. The rookie minimum salary this year is about $400,000.
Will Davis, a rookie cornerback, tweeted Sunday: “The bill was definitely split. . . . They would never put that on one man to pay for it all. Haha now that would be crazy . . .”
Every team has a rookie dinner outing, which is what Odrick was referring to in his tweet, but at issue are incidents that extend far beyond a onetime meal deal.
The source characterized Dolphins veterans using younger players as ATMs to finance their nightlife whims. These older players have been caught up in the fast-paced Miami lifestyle without the burden of having to pay for it, the source continued.
Multiple sources plugged into the organization agree that it’s happening in Miami — but it’s not just a Dolphins issue: It happens league-wide, and organizations and the players’ union know all about it. They simply don’t care, another source said.
Earlier in the day, Incognito pushed back against reports last week that Martin left the team over bullying, with Incognito taking direct aim at ESPN in a series of tweets Sunday morning.
“Stop slandering my name,” Incognito told ESPN’s Adam Schefter via Twitter. “You hide behind ‘sources’ who are not man enough to put their name behind the BS you report.”
Schefter stood behind his report Sunday that Incognito was under review by the NFL Players Association for his role in Martin’s departure from the team. The team has privately held that Martin abruptly left the club last Monday to deal with emotional issues.
This is not the first time Schefter’s reporting has been questioned by Incognito.
During training camp, the ESPN correspondent, citing sources, wrote that Incognito decked a bouncer at the Fontainebleau’s trendy Club Liv.
However, Incognito claims he never threw a punch, and a police report on the incident appeared to support his story. It noted that he, not the bouncer, had abrasions consistent with a fight. Police sent Incognito home with a trespassing warning.
On Sunday, Incognito went public with his grievances.
“@AdamSchefter This is the second time you have tried to drag my name through the mud with lies,” he wrote. “@espn shame on you for attaching my name to false speculation. I won’t be holding my breathe [sic] for an apology.”
Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka had some strong words for Incognito on ESPN on Sunday, saying, “I find it hard to believe. . . . I can’t comprehend it. When this would happen in my time, you take the bully and you’d kick his butt. You go to Fist City with this guy.”
Ditka and fellow football analyst and former player Tom Jackson pointed the finger at Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, saying, “[Philbin’s] efforts should be to end [the behavior].”
Dolphins players might have violated portions of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy if allegations of harassment of Martin and other allegations involving the treatment of younger players are shown to be true, according to league sources.
The NFL Personal Conduct policy imposes a standard of conduct for league and club employees, including players and coaches. The policy states that they are “held to a higher standard and expected to conduct yourself in a way that is responsible, promotes the values upon which the League is based, and is lawful.
Employees found to violate the policy might be disciplined if any of the following circumstances were to take place:• Violent or threatening behavior among employees, whether in or outside the workplace.
• Conduct that imposes inherent danger to the safety and well being of another person.
• Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs or NFL players.
Meanwhile, some outside the Dolphins pushed back against the idea that the team is a franchise in disarray.
“This is a runaway train that the media, national and local reporters are taking to a . . . crazy level, and there’s no reason for any of it,” said agent David Canter, who represents several Dolphins players, including star defensive tackle Paul Soliai. “The Miami Dolphins are not a dysfunctional organization. They don’t have a dysfunctional leadership.
“The players in the locker room don’t dislike each other,” Canter continued. “They fight for each other and work for each other. This is one player [Martin] who had a very, very adverse reaction to a set of circumstances.”
Miami Herald sportswriter Armando Salguero contributed to this report.