NFL players union to also investigate Miami Dolphins’ bullying scandal
The NFL Players Association has joined the league in looking into bullying accusations against the Dolphins. Meanwhile, another report of bad behavior by Richie Incognito surfaced, and center Mike Pouncey remains out with an illness.
11/20/2013 12:00 AM
09/08/2014 6:57 PM
The Miami Dolphins can’t even get through the current, invasive investigation without news of yet another one popping up.
The NFL Players Association has launched its own inquiry into the team’s bullying scandal, according to multiple news outlets. The effort will be led by Richard Smith, who captained the union’s look into the Saints’ bounty saga.
Smith plans to explore team management’s role in the alleged abuse, USA Today reported. Efforts to reach the NFLPA for comment Tuesday were not successful. The Dolphins declined comment.
By the time Smith comes to town, Dolphins players will be well-versed in speaking to attorneys about their internal workings.
They have spent the past two days talking to NFL investigator Ted Wells, who has peppered players with an exhaustive line of questioning.
Wells’ interviews have been so detailed that one player who has been through the process likened the experience to being on the true-crime reality TV show The First 48.
So while most Dolphins players haven’t seen much of Wells since he arrived Monday, they have sure felt his presence.
The music in the locker room was turned down Tuesday. Crude language has been sanitized. And for those who haven’t yet been called for a sit-down, there’s been an unease not seen since cut-down day.
Wells, tasked with investigating Jonathan Martin’s allegations of workplace harassment, has been tucked away in Dolphins headquarters since Monday, summoning key players, coaches and staff who might have pertinent information to his case.
Instead of cycling through the entire roster, Wells has focused mostly on the Dolphins’ offensive line, which is where the alleged abuse occurred.
Players questioned have no advance warning. Instead, they’ve been tapped on the shoulder and essentially been told to go the principal’s office.
“I’m not too excited about it,’’ said lineman Sam Brenner, who hadn’t yet been interviewed as of mid-afternoon Tuesday. “They say be yourself and be honest.”
Wells, a respected New York-based attorney, has much to sift through — a pile that grows larger by the day.
The National Football Post reported Tuesday that Richie Incognito’s alleged boorish behavior was not limited to his teammates.
Incognito and at least one other player “mocked the ethnic background of a team staff member and made crude jokes about the staff member’s wife,” the report stated. Furthermore, the behavior reportedly occurred in front of other members of the Dolphins’ staff but was not curtailed.
Incognito remains indefinitely suspended, one of three starting Dolphins offensive linemen currently unavailable to the team. Martin, obviously, is another.
The third is Mike Pouncey, who missed practice Tuesday as he continues to recover from the health issues that kept him out of Sunday’s game against San Diego.
NFL.com reported Tuesday that doctors are mulling removing Pouncey’s gallbladder, but hope to avoid it with medication.
It is unknown if Pouncey will be well enough to play this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. If not, Nate Garner would likely again get the start at center. Brenner started at guard with both Pouncey and Incognito missing.
Garner only got 15-20 practice snaps at center in the week leading up the Chargers game, and didn’t learn that he’d be starting at that position until Sunday morning.
“I don’t think I’m the best at any position, but the fact that I can play all of them keep me around,” Garner said.
The Dolphins would have more flexibility to deal with their depth issues on the line if they didn’t waste a roster spot on Martin, who’s shown no signs of returning to the team.
The Dolphins could conceivably put Martin on the non-football injury list and not pay him a dime, but haven’t yet and won’t this week — possibly out of fear of a lawsuit.
He will not only earn $35,733 this week to not play, but alsoﾠleave the Dolphins with 52 active players for as long as he remains in limbo.
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin wouldn’t say why Martin remains on the active roster — as opposed to putting him on the NFI list, which they could do and still pay him his full salary.
“We’ve got 46 guys [who can play in a game], and we’ll have 46 guys ready to go on Sunday,” Philbin said.
The man responsible for making it all work — offensive line coach Jim Turner — is also a subject of Wells’ investigation. ESPN reported Sunday that Turner is a person of interest based onﾠhis using loud, insulting and profane language with the players.
Philbin said Turner has done a “good job” in his capacity with the Dolphins.
“He’s actually been pretty good and humorous and made O-line meetings pretty fun,” said tackle Bryant McKinnie. “I felt like I was back in college.”
Added receiver Brian Hartline: “Anyone that’s in the locker room and knows what O-line coaches are made of, you wouldn’t want a tentative, shy O-line coach.”
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