The last two weeks have not been kind to the Miami Dolphins. From the “parting ways” with Jeff Ireland and the firing of Mike Sherman, rumors that Joe Philbin wanted to leave the team to the declination of interviews by top GM candidates ending with declination to the GM job offer. The hiring of Dennis Hickey as the teams new GM did nothing to erase the media attention being paid to Stephen Ross and his team executives. It’s been an ugly few weeks to say the least and it’s about to get worse.
For the first time since early November Jonathan Martin is coming out from under the shell he has been living in and he is talking. The Ted Wells investigation will be made public after the Super Bowl but that has not stopped Martin from speaking his side of the story. The first part of his interview with Tony Dungy aired last night on NBC more will air this morning on the Today Show. Tonight around 6:00 pm Eastern, the entire interview will air on PFT MSNBC.
Martin said last night that he is a “grown man and has been in locker rooms”. He said “One incident doesn’t bother me. It was the persistence.” Martin outline over the course of the interview that the harassment was constant and continued over and over again citing the use of the N-word and sexual comments directed at Martin about his sister and mother. He also went on to say that he spoke with friends in other locker rooms and was told that indeed this was not the norm at the NFL level.
“I have no problem with the normal hazing that you see in the NFL, get a haircut, stuff like that, little pranks,” Martin said. “But of a personal, attacking nature, I don’t think there’s any place for that.”
Apparently a “little prank” was enough to push Martin over the edge. Martin left the team following a lunch room prank, slammed his tray down and walked out on the team. At one point he was said to be in treatment in Southern California yet at various times was seen in public in a more jovial mood. Specifically at the height of the drama, Martin was laughing it up on the sideline of Stanford game. His alma mater.
Martin also said that he felt “trapped” and had nowhere to turn. Despite the fact that he had trainers, a position coach and an assistant position coach, an offensive coordinator, head coach, and a GM. Martin also had the entire NFL to turn to but opted not to as well as the NFLPA who should have been the first place he turned to if in fact he felt “trapped”. He did not.
Martin’s case has gained national attention but should also highlight the fact that while there are options for help available most individuals don’t seek it. In the case of Martin his comments with Tony Dungy seem to point to the direction he may have turned. His parents and family. Martin still possesses over what he said is 1500 text messages with Richie Incognito. Banter that went back and forth between the two for a year. It’s likely, and this is only conjecture, that Martin turned to his family, both attorneys, and got the advice to leave the team instead of seeking help within the NFL.
Martin spoke of others within the locker room receiving similar treatment but said he didn’t know why he was singled out for more of it. He also said that Richie Incognito wasn’t the only player to harass him. It’s been reported during the season that Pro-Bowl center Mike Pouncey was also one of the players harassing Martin. It’s not known yet who else may have been a part of the bullying. This despite the fact Martin has been shown to be quite happy waving money at strip clubs in Miami.
Yesterday Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross spoke about the situation ahead of the Ted Wells report. He said that he has been in contact with Wells and while he has not seen the report has an idea of what will be in it and is prepared to handle it when it does come out. The comments of Ross have led many to speculate that Oline coach Jim Turner will be the immediate fall guy from the incident. The Dolphins added an assistant offensive line coach last week and many believe that he, John Benton, formerly of the Houston Texans will become the new OL coach.
Ross waffled on the questions regarding the incident clumsily falling through his answer perhaps not sure how much or how little he should say. It’s clear that Ross has had enough mistakes in his short tenure with Miami and everything he says is publicly scrutinized.
“I have an idea what will be in it. I’ve been in communication with the NFL. I’ve spoken with Ted Wells who is handling the investigation,” Ross said, via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. “I haven’t seen the report. I don’t know exactly it’s conclusions. I believe based on my conversations that … well, let’s put it this way, I don’t want to really speculate. When it comes out, we’ll do what has to be done but we’ve already … in my mind I know what direction we’re going. Stay tuned.”
Stay tuned? It sounds like we should be on the edge of our seats. Unfortunately his words also may have tipped his teams plans this off-season. Asked directly about the future of Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin as it relates to rejoining the team, Ross said, “I don’t believe so”. It was a quick honest answer that he immediately tried to reverse. “Well, I can’t say that. Therefore, I retract that,” Ross said. “One is a free agent, by the way; the other is on our roster.”
The comments regarding Martin being the roster seems to equate to the Dolphins attempting to trade the lineman when free agency opens in March. Ross may have let the rest of the NFL know that the team will not be bringing them back which immediately lessens what little value Martin may have as it is. It could also be an attempt to reverse a comment that will likely be used against him “in a court of law”. Despite the fact that Martin was paid his full salary this season a civil lawsuit against the team and possibly the NFL is almost a guarantee and given the high profile nature of his parents cases in the past, it’s likely to be a case not settled out of court immediately.
The entire mess is not going to go away any time soon and it’s likely to continue deep into February and beyond.
Since Stephen Ross has taken over the Miami Dolphins, he has dealt with Bill Parcells quitting, Mike Dee holding a “Florida Gator appreciation day” while the Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow were in town to play the Dolphins, an orange carpet parade of celebrities, the addition of several ‘celebrity minority owners’, an attempt to lure John Harbaugh to Miami while Tony Sparano was still the head coach, a public apology to Sparano and two year contract extension that left Sparano ignoring his owner and GM all season, a firing of his coach and retention of his GM, the inability to land an interview with FA Peyton Manning despite the fact he spends his off-season in Miami, a failed attempt at Jeff Fisher to be his coach, two separate aircraft advertisements asking for the removal of Jeff Ireland, a protest in front of the teams offices in Davie, a major public failure to secure funding for stadium upgrades, Jonathan Martin quitting, the bullying scandal, an ultimatum to his head coach to fire his mentor and OC, and this ill prepped GM search rife with candidates removing their names from consideration and turning down offers.
And it’s only been five years.