Time has allowed me to digest the report from Ted Wells. There are several approaches that I can take in order to express my opinion. I am not a psychologist and do not pretend to be. I can say that in my 14 plus years in the emergency medical services, emergency room work, psychiatry unit work, and advanced health care that I have seen a lot more than the average person. I say that only to put into context my opinions on the Ted Wells document.
My first approach was to write this out as a narrative article piecing together everything all at once. Instead, I have decided to elaborate more specifically on the names of those involved consistently.
Ireland is not exempt from knowledge in this event. In May of 2013 he had a report that Martin contemplated suicide and was very depressed. While he assured Martin that the team was prepared to help him and initially did, the fact that Martin was not followed up with and/or checked on was disturbing. Ireland was the GM and as such should have taken care to assign someone not on the coaching staff to keep a helpful eye on Martin. I don’t blame Ireland for this mess but I can’t excuse him fully either. The reality is that you can and sometimes should do more…even if more is simply following up. I will say that I do not know how often Ireland spoke with Philbin about this situation.
Garner is a six year veteran who has played for two different coaches. As a veteran he should have had more power to stop the verbal abuse that he himself was being subjected to. At the very least the knowledge that he could talk with the coaching staff. He is not to blame because he too was a victim himself.
Jerry may find it difficult to capitalize on his impending free agency as he could face a suspension for his involvement. Jerry was clearly an instigator in all of this and that alone should not be discounted. He shoulders as much blame as anyone else.
Pouncey seemed to be more of the “go along for the ride” participant but as a leader on this team the Dolphins should expect more from him. He should expect more from himself. Truth be told he never came close to acting like a leader and some could proffer that off the field or on. Pouncey will likely face some form of league punishment to what extent is unknown and frankly I’m not so sure what amount of discipline is actually warranted here for him.
There is little doubt in my mind that O’Neill should be fired. He is a head trainer on an NFL team who is supposed to have the pulse of the locker room. Instead he not only laughs at the repetitive jokes aimed at his assistant but does nothing at all to stymy it. O’Neill acted in my opinion in a full unprofessional manner that was and is inexcusable. It’s his job to maintain an even feel in that arena and at the very least his inability to realize or council his assistant is pathetic.
I think this speaks volumes to the disconnect Sherman had with this team. His name nearest I could tell was not mentioned at all. Unless I missed it. Regardless it appears that the overall chain of command went from Turner directly to Philbin.
Turner is likely to be the first coach fired in this mess and quite frankly he should have been fired for his inability to coach the line. His actions were unprofessional and his participation was worse. The fact that he held council with Martin over his suicide attempts and depression is not commendable to me but instead showcases the broader lack of attention needed to expose this and curb it earlier. The fact that Turner himself did nothing to check up on Martin during the season is enough to warrant dismissal.
I have already written an article on the fact that Philbin should have known. After reading this report I am concerned more with the fact that Philbin knew about Martin’s mental health and still did nothing to follow up on it. There is absolutely NO excuse for having an employee suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts without keeping a close eye on that person throughout his employment. Especially in this type of job. Philbin displayed concern over the incidents and took the time to talk with Martin and his parents but where was the follow-up? The fact that Martin so easily slipped back into depression after his meeting with the psych went unnoticed is alarming. Furthermore the fact that Martin showed up late and drunk to practice after a night of alcohol and drugs and was still undetected is unfathomable.
The fact that Philbin not only allowed this to occur without knowledge following two separate off-season events involving Incognito is troubling.
To put it clearly, in my opinion Joe Philbin hasn’t displayed the leadership qualities one would expect from a head football coach.
There is no question that JMart has deep seeded emotional baggage that he carries with him. Going into the report I felt very strongly that Martin’s departure was predetermined in order to facilitate a change from the Miami Dolphins, the NFL, or a legal case. Perhaps all three. Instead I came away with a clearer understanding of the emotional instability of JMart. While it’s apparent that he was unable to handle certain types of verbal abuse, mainly about his sister, he was able to handle most of the “abuse” dolled out by the “trio”.
Most concerning to me through all of this is the fact that at times Martin lied. He lied about being Incognito’s friend, he lied about the physical abuse, and he lied to both himself and his coaches. He reached out to four different people regarding his depression but not at any time told them or his shrink that it was relative to his relationship with his teammates. Furthermore, Martin was his own man who made his own decisions and while he says he was only “trying to fit in” others claim that he wasn’t treated as badly as others.
The reality of this is that Martin never divulged that he was upset by Incognito’s taunting and in fact his banter back and forth and clear friendship likely gave Incog the reason to keep going. In my opinion based solely on this report, Martin is a weak minded individual who needs help with his mental demons. He should have continued his care with the shrink despite the fact that he would not have found that to invite a stop to the torment. Perhaps he would have found an opportunity to open up about what was eating at his soul.
The final issue with Martin is that frankly he didn’t play well at the NFL level and he was replaced by someone in trade. Martin had always been the best tackle on his teams and now he was marginally the best of what little Miami had. Martin took everything about his play so serious that he wasted himself on drugs and alcohol on different occasions following bad performances and ultimately a demotion. Coupled with everything together it’s easy to see why he finally lost it.
While the report gives no hint to predetermined walk-out on the team, I have to assume that not every text or message between Martin and his parents were seen. Still, there is no question that Martin needs help and if he believes that a change of scenery will simply help that, then he is unmistakably wrong. Martin will get another chance to play in the NFL but he can rest assured that he will never be thought of as a teammate that you can fully trust.
I just can’t help but think that the lack of leadership in the team offices kept Martin from being able to speak his mind but his weakness to stand up to the bullying is of his own mental deficiency and not a lack of recognition entirely by Incognito. It’s like a victim of any crime, if you allow it to continue, don’t try and stop it, and participate in it, how can you honestly say later that everything you did was a result of not wanting that interaction? At some point you need to make the statement you don’t want it and be clear about it.
There is no question that Incog believed that he was in fact Martin’s “brother”. The two over the last two seasons developed an intense, vulgar, relationship that most people would never understand. Not even a little. The issue here is that as Martin’s friend, Incognito also should have seen the signs if something was bothering him and if it did, it should have been an indication to back off not tread forward.
Is Incognito a bully? Yes. His actions against Martin, Garner, Samuda, McDonald, the trainers and other staff clearly show that Incog has no place being a leader on this team and reality dictates he should have been gone of the sexual harassment case. That all being placed aside, Incognito in my opinion is frankly too freaking stupid to realize the difference between right and wrong when it comes to a friendship. I’m not judging him on the context of his texts because frankly I don’t care but instead on the notion that he felt that his verbal assaults were acceptable.
Most importantly Incognito is not a victim in this and frankly nothing that has been said has been an indictment on Incognito’s character. Incognito is his own indictment. In the sense of the word bully, Incognito fits that definition but his intentions were in his mind more playful and intended to be nothing more than a consistent irritation. Still he is a leader of this team and his displayed actions are ridiculous. The fact that almost every other player recognizes this as “Richie being Richie” is enough to know that what is being said about him is obviously fact.
There is no way that Miami will re-sign Incognito and he will face a likely suspension again from the NFL. As much as Martin needs mental health help so does Incognito. He simply isn’t a nice guy and at times when he does seem to care it’s hard to discern whether or not that feeling is self serving. Over the course of reading this report my opinions changed greatly from when I started. Entering I viewed this an attempt by Martin to get what he wanted and that Incognito was the victim. That is not the case anymore.
I find myself looking back to the many times that Incognito has tried to defend himself publicly. I even offered him the platform on my radio show. I see now that he genuinely thought of himself as a victim here which simply shows just how ignorant he really is.
Ted Wells’ Report:
There are some issues I take with the report. Mainly I find it too one sided in favor of Martin and it’s concentration on a Dr.’s knowledge of “displayed behavior” and not on the actual context of what happened. The reality of the relationship between Martin and Incog seems to me to be painted very gray in this report and it appears at times that Wells walked a fine line of pointing the finger to Martin for anything while at the same time giving an off-handed remark in support of Incognito. Many times when support was thrown to Incog, it is quickly followed with something that would support Martin’s position.
Basically the report declines to come out and say that Martin is a weak minded NFL football player who needs continued therapy. It fails to say that while Martin participated in the banter and verbal abuse towards others that it was by his own doing but instead seemingly admonishing him of any guilt or responsibility in the matter. The truth is from what I see is that Martin participated in a vulgar culture that he was unable to fully acclimate to despite wanting to. His inability to match wits with his teammates made him at times feel awkward and that caused him to retract mentally.
Incognito is not painted in a good light and that’s o.k. there were very little redeeming qualities found to support Incognito at all. Despite this, Richie is presented as a dumb jock type who simply knows no better. That is the best way to describe him.
More importantly the report which in my opinion will likely do nothing to make immediate change is the lack of attention by the coaching staff on all levels. There simply is no excuse to me that the HC, OC, GM, and OL coach did not know this behavior existed after the revelation of Martin’s depression and suicidal thoughts. It means that everyone expected someone else to handle it and that to me is th reason that Stephen Ross should do more than simply say “changes will be made”. He needs to make changes.
In the end, I do not know where this will go but I suspect that litigation is not too far off. The report has done nothing to stop Martin from pursuing a lawsuit against the team and/or Incognito. What happens immediately next is going to be up to the NFL and to Stephen Ross and I suspect the NFL will do more.