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The Early Take on the Dolphins’ Mess

Updated: November 8, 2013

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Richie Incognito, photo courtesy of June Rivera

The first takeaway here is that this really IS the early take on the whole Dolphins’ workplace mess, this story is way premature, there is likely much more to come out.

As veteran NFL journalist Chris Mortensen said this week, 30 years ago this story would have come up, reporters would spend a month researching, verifying, getting the story right before it was reported. With today’s online media, word gets out and the story almost reports itself with rumors, spin, etc…it’s hard to tell fact from fiction. That’s where we are at this point in the story. So let’s be patient.

But it’s not too early to point out some of the interesting elements thus far:

Courtesy of sportslogos.net

Richie Incognito - Clearly Richie has anger management issues, he has no filter, he should be caged and only let out at game time. It’s interesting that he was put on the team’s leadership council and reportedly he was instructed by a coach to toughen up Jonathan Martin. But the real interesting part is how the Dolphins immediately threw Richie under the bus when reports of Martin’s defection came out…and ever since they’ve been rehabilitating Richie’s rep and making Martin out to be at fault in a misunderstanding. First Richie is suspended and we hear his litany of sins and past bad behavior…next thing he’s a great teammate, great leader, wish he was back, etc. This time nobody is even bothered by a white guy using the ‘N-word’. Very curious indeed.

Jonathan Martin - By the same token, initially Jonathan Martin was the victim…fine young man from Stanford, thoughtful, and harassed by a bully. As the Incognito story flipped, Martin became aloof, thin-skinned, everyone felt he and Richie were buddies, he should’ve stood up for himself, etc. This is also curious. And the next thing we hear is that he’s lawyered-up with David Cornwell.

David Cornwell - Hiring attorney David Cornwell, you’d say Martin is bringing in the big guns. Cornwell is currently part of Team A-Rod, got Ryan Braun and Ben Roethlisberger off the hook, former sports agent, etc. In a high profile legal case you make a statement by whom you hire. Martin made a statement. Interestingly Cornwell was a candidate in 2009 to become the players’ union Executive Director, a job that went to DeMaurice Smith…since then he’s dogged NFLPA leadership. Initial saber-rattling indicates a hostile workplace lawsuit on Martin’s behalf; expect him to also take shots at the NFLPA for not properly monitoring the workplace and protecting its members.

Jeff Ireland by bossip.com

Jeff Ireland - Hoo boy, does he have a mess on his hands. As the GM, Ireland is responsible for all Dolphin football operations. So we’ve got Incognito on the leadership council, and a coach giving the Code Red on Martin. And then reportedly when Martin’s agent approached Ireland about harassment, Ireland suggested Martin should punch Incognito. Brilliant. It’s interesting that this is the same Jeff Ireland who in 2010 asked Dez Bryant in an interview if his mother was a prostitute…Ireland’s “punch him” advice should’ve applied to Dez as well, except Ireland knew he was pretty bulletproof as an NFL Executive. He would seem to be a small man who’s in over his head.

The guess is Jonathan Martin has really decided football is no longer for him (he says he wants to play but that just makes his suit worth more as he’ll be unemployable in the NFL), and he’ll be off to Harvard Law School. We’ll likely hear about more harassment and suspect behavior as the rest comes out. Some of the incidents can be explained away in the context of football locker rooms but it won’t look good in a court of law.

Expect the NFL to create a set of very-PC guidelines for workplace behavior including a speech code…even if the leadership dysfunction in Miami turns out to be an outlier.

Don’t be so sure Richie Incognito’s NFL career is over. In fact given his suspension and the Dolphins’ subsequent supportive words, he’s actually got an excellent lawsuit against the Dolphins.

This is another complex situation being seized upon by everyone who has a cause involved here. Just remember it’s early yet with more bombshells likely to come before the truth is out.

This post was written by

Dave Graziano – who has written posts on Big Dog Sports Blog.
Short Hills, NJ USA


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