Dysfunctional Miami Dolphins are the talk of the league
On a day of rapid developments, the Dolphins suspended one of their players and the NFL began an investigation into bullying allegations.
11/05/2013 12:01 AM
09/08/2014 6:56 PM
Embattled Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said Monday he will fully cooperate with the NFL’s inquiry into the hazing allegations by team member Jonathan Martin, and indicated that he would accept its findings.
Even if it costs him his job, which is a possibility.
Meanwhile, Richie Incognito — the veteran offensive lineman accused by Martin of extreme mental abuse — has already lost his job. He will never again play for the Dolphins, a source told The Miami Herald.
On a day when the Dolphins were the talk of pro football, both Martin and Incognito were away from the team — but for very different reasons.
Martin is with his family in California, where he is likely to spend the coming weeks undergoing therapy for emotional issues.
Incognito, meanwhile, served the first day of an indefinite suspension that will ultimately end with his removal from the franchise. The team hastily suspended Incognito late Sunday after Martin turned in a series of harassing texts and voice mails, many of which were made public Monday.
Fox Sports and CBSSports.com both reported Monday that Incognito sent Martin a series of racially charged and threatening messages, including one in which Incognito called Martin, who is biracial, a “half-n-----.” In CBSSports.com’s report, Incognito is said to have threatened to track down Martin’s family.
Diatribe on video
Late in the day, TMZ.com posted a video clip of a shirtless Incognito screaming the N-word during a barroom diatribe, with teammate Mike Pouncey, who is black, laughing to the side.
Also Monday, word emerged of a series of inflammatory message-board posts on a fan forum by a person believed to be Incognito’s father, Richard. The elder Incognito made some incendiary comments about the Dolphins’ leadership and portrayed Martin as unstable.
Efforts to reach both Richie and Richard Incognito for comment were unsuccessful.
However, the younger Incognito can expect to hear from the NFL soon.
The league’s independent investigation into the Dolphins will be led by Adolpho Birch, the NFL’s senior vice president of labor policy. Birch oversees the administration of the league’s personal-conduct policy.
“We have been in contact with the team on this matter since last week and will conduct a thorough review,” the league said.
After practice, Philbin gave a detailed timeline of the events that led to the inquiry and Monday’s press briefing, which was attended by about 100 local, national and international reporters.
Philbin said he was first made aware of a situation after Martin left the team following a prank gone wrong on Oct. 28.
He said he was in touch with both Martin and his parents throughout the following week, but “in all my discussions with Jonathan and his family, at no time were there any accusations or allegations of misconduct by any members of this team or this organization.”
It appears that the news media were ahead of the team on the issue. News first broke Thursday night that Martin may have been the victim of bullying.
And so, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross over the weekend called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and asked for help in the form of an independent inquiry.
“Our owner Steve Ross, who had been involved throughout the entire process, contacted the commissioner, Roger Goodell, and requested the NFL become involved and conduct a review of the workplace,” Philbin said.
Ross is prepared to use the review to make career decisions on various people within the organization if the review finds fault with their actions.
Philbin didn’t need a review to part ways with Incognito, however. The batch of messages provided to the team was enough to make up his mind.
“He’s done,” a ranking club source said Monday. “There are procedures in place, and everyone wants to be fair. The NFL is involved. But from a club perspective, he’ll never play another game here.”
Inside the locker room, meanwhile, Dolphins players publicly supported both Incognito and Martin. None of the team’s first-year players who spoke Monday said they had ever encountered instances of extreme hazing. Martin was not in his first year, but he was a young player.
Many Dolphins players had only good things to say about Incognito.
“I love Richie, man,” receiver Mike Wallace said. “I personally think he’s a great guy.”
A source within the extended Miami Dolphins family told the Miami Herald that, by and large, the team is more in Incognito’s corner than Martin’s.
Not long after Martin stormed out of the team’s training complex Oct. 28, the source continued, he reached out to all of the Dolphins’ linemen via text message. The gist of the message was that Martin would be away for a while, but would come back better.
When Martin formally took his concerns to team management, the players felt he broke an unwritten rule, the source said.
And players were far more understanding of Incognito’s vile string of messages than was the outside world, the source continued.
Many of the players don’t see it as a bullying issue, the source said.
Either way, now it’s a matter for the NFL — one that could engulf the rest of the Dolphins’ season.
“If the review shows that this is not a safe atmosphere, I will take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that it is,” Philbin said. “I have that obligation to the players that I coach on a daily basis, and I will do that.”
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