Miami Dolphins players deny allegations of locker room violence
11/09/2013 3:26 PM
11/10/2013 8:38 PM
Dolphins offensive linemen pushed back against the accusation that there's a problem with violence in their locker room Saturday, with Tyson Clabo saying: "Since I've been here, I haven't seen anything like that."
The team was again put on the defensive after Jonathan Martin's attorney, David Cornwell, alleged Thursday that Martin suffered physical abuse at the hands of his teammates.
But Danny Watkins, a guard who's been with the team for two months, also said he's never witnessed any instances of violence on the team.
Watkins added that the full story is not being told because the public does not have a proper understanding of a football locker room.
Joe Philbin, meanwhile, was mum on the issue Saturday, saying he wants to respect the process of the NFL's independent review while it's ongoing.
Philbin did acknowledge, however, that the team knew about Richie Incognito's alleged harassment of a female volunteer at a team charity golf outing not long after it happened.
"We were made aware of the incident and took immediate action," Philbin said. He did not specify what that action was.
The Miami Herald has learned the Dolphins worked hard to keep the incident quiet, and Incognito paid the victim to go away.
Incognito's purported groping with a golf club would be a clear violation of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy, but it is unknown if the league acted on it.
The incident came very early in Philbin's tenure, when he was trying to establish a no-nonsense culture within the organization.
Just three months later, Philbin cut Chad Johnson within 24 hours of his arrest on charges he head-butted his wife.
However, Incognito not only remained on the team after the embarrassment, but was elected to the team's 2013 leadership council and was featured in in-game videos promoting fan etiquette.
"There's a lot of information out there," Philbin said in his opening remarks. "I can tell you we want to get the facts as well. I've been in constant communication with [Dolphins owner] Steve Ross, [CEO] Tom Garfinkel, [General Manager] Jeff Ireland and [capologist] Dawn Aponte with regard to this situation.
"We're all committed to getting to the bottom of this," Philbin added.
Among the issues to be explored: Just how widespread Martin's abuse was in the Dolphins locker room. Cornwell indicated Thursday that it wasn't isolated to just Incognito.
Center Mike Pouncey wouldn't say when asked if he was concerned about being ensnared in the controversy.
“At the end of the day, we’re a band of brothers and we’re here for one thing and that’s to play football and to win football games and that’s been our main focus since all of this went down," said Pouncey, speaking for the first time since the firestorm erupted.
"It’s going to be our focus to finish this year out.”
Like Pouncey, most Dolphins players made a concerted effort Saturday to deflect questions about the scandal and talk about Monday's game against winless Tampa Bay.
However, Brent Grimes' wife Miko on Twitter gave voice to a sentiment expressed more than once privately in Dolphins headquarters since Monday.
"If u think a [24-]yr old man is capable of being bullied by his teammate, is it possible that he's now being bullied by his attorney/family?" she wrote early Saturday morning.
Quipped Watkins, who might be active Monday for the first time this season: "I think we're more in shock than anything. You're here to play football, and it just makes it difficult when it's happening."
Miami Herald sportswriter Armando Salguero contributed to this report.
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