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4 posts from November 3, 2013

November 03, 2013

Dolphins suspend Richie Incognito

The Dolphins this evening have suspended guard Richie Incognito, citing conduct detrimental to the team, in connection to allegations of harassment and bullying teammate Jonathan Martin.

“The Miami Dolphins have suspended Richie Incognito for conduct detrimental to the team. We believe in maintaining a culture of respect for one another and as a result we believe this decision is in the best interest of the organization at this time," the team said in a statement. "As we noted earlier, we reached out to the NFL to conduct an objective and thorough review. We will continue to work with the league on this matter."

Incognito allegedly was involved in behavior that made Martin feel he was in a difficult work place environment. That behavior including verbal abuse, and implied pressure over Martin to bend to Incognito's will, a source close to Martin alleges. The source also said Martin felt threatened by Incognito and said there is evidence of that threat in the form of text messages and voice mails.

The source said that evidence has been turned over to the Dolphins.

A Dolphins source said Sunday night whatever evidence is turned over to them will in turn be turned over to the NFL which is investigating the matter.

However, the fact the team has taken the significant step to suspend Incognito even as the investigation is in its infancy is a sign the team believes Martin and the evidence he's presented to a high degree.

The NFL was made aware of the team's intent to suspend Incognito before the decision was finalized. The suspension is indefinite.

And as Martin has no current plans to return to the team in the near future, according to a source, it means the Dolphins will be without their starting left guard and starting right tackle when they resume practice at 2:45 Monday afternoon.

The Dolphins are expected to work with Nate Garner at left guard and Tyson Clabo at right tackle. Both players manned those positions against the Cincinnati Bengals after Martin went AWOL from the team prior to the game and Incognito suffered a stinger in his neck in the first half and was unable to return to the game.

Incognito has not been available for comment. He is expected to seek representation to fight the allegations.

Sunday was a very active day for the Dolphins as they've been working this issue. Early in the day they released a statement saying, in part, "the notion of bullying is based on speculation and has not been presented to us as a concern from Jonathan or anyone else internally."

Following the release of that statement, Incognito went on twitter to suggest media accounts of his involvement were wrong and that he wanted his name "cleared."

Approximately five hours later, after the Martin camp presented a formal complaint of "hateful" behavior, a source said, the club released a statement saying it had allegations of player misconduct. And within seven hours of that, the club had made and communicated to Incognito the decision to suspend him.

The news of the suspension was delivered to Incognito by coach Joe Philbin.

This episode closed quite a week for the Dolphins offensive line. Center Mike Pouncey was served a subpoena in connection to the Aaron Hernandez murder case on Sunday. Martin went AWOL from the team on Monday. And then the Incognito suspension.

And here we thought the biggest problem with the Miami offensive line was sacks.

Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/dolphins_in_depth/#storylink=cpy

 

Miami Dolphins hazing, pranks, bullying may run afoul of NFL Personal Conduct Policy

Players on the Dolphins, under review by the NFL, may have violated portions of the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy if allegations of harassment of offensive lineman Jonathan Martin and other allegations involving the treatment of younger players are proven true, according to league sources.

The NFL Personal Conduct policy imposes a standard of conduct for league and club employes, including players and coaches. That policy states employees of the NFL or a member clubs are "held to a higher standard and expected to conduct yourself in a way that is responsible, promotes the values upon which the League is based, and is lawful.

"Persons who fail to live up to this standard of conduct are guilty of conduct detrimental and subject to discipline, even where the conduct itself does not result in conviction of a crime."

Employees found in violation of the policy may have discipline imposed for any of the following circumstances: 

• Violent or threatening behavior among employees, whether in or outside the workplace.

• Conduct that imposes inherent danger to the safety and well being of another person; and

• Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL players.

In recent days there have been numerous reports of alleged harassment or mistreatment or even "bullying" of Martin. That alleged bullying included Martin being the subject of a prank in the team's lunch room when other players invited him to have lunch with them. Martin, the story goes, sat down and his teammates all got up and left him alone at the table.

ESPN and CBSSports reported today that Dolphins guard Richie Incognito is one of the leaders of the alleged poor treatment of Martin and gave examples of the veteran guard's actions.

Incognito and the club have pushed back against such reports. Incognito defended himself on twitter and the Dolphins released a statement saying the club knows of no bullying that is going on relative to Martin.

[Update: The Dolphins released a statement at approximately 4:30 Sunday saying, "We received notification today from Jonathan's representation about allegations of player misconduct. We are taking these allegations very seriously and plan to review the matter further. We have also reached out to the NFL and asked them to conduct an objective and thorough review. As an organization, we are committed to a culture of team-first accountability and respect for one another."]

The NFL is conducting a review on the matter which could lead to actions if it finds violations of the Personal Conduct Policy. The NFL Players Association is also not conducting a formal investigation.

And this issue is bound to become more complex before it gets resolved.

Part of the issue is that Martin, which the club maintains is ill, is now through representatives apparently offering details and naming names in incidents of misconduct. But, interestingly, the club is aware of at least one incident in which Martin participated in what could be construed as pranksterism or hazing or, bullying.

Earlier this year, members of the offensive line took guard Josh Samuda's car keys and moved the car from where Samuda had parked it. Martin, a club source confirmed today, was part of that prank.

Also, one source tells me that the same joke that apparently sent Martin over the proverbial edge -- the lunchroom prank in which players abandon one teammate -- was done to guard Nate Garner the week before.

And Martin was allegedly involved in helping to perpetrate that one.

Another layer and tangential to this story is the Dolphins embracing of rookie hazing. The NFL confirmed to me that rookie hazing does indeed fall under the NFL personal conduct policy. And so at the point where players are forced to shave or dye their hair, or carry gear for veterans, or pay for meals out or bring ordered meals on team flights for veterans, it all falls under the policy.

There are numerous and well documented accounts of such hazing.

Do they rise to the level of bullying? That is unclear.

Are the acts subject to the NFL Personal Conduct Policy? Absolutely.

 

 

 

ESPN, CBS double down on Incognito as bully

Following a statement from the Dolphins that rejects the notion there is any bullying going on within the Dolphins and specifically the offensive line and a twitter barrage by guard Richie Incognito against ESPN, there is now return fire from media giant.

According to ProFootballTalk.com, ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reports the reason Jonathan Martin has not formally complained to the team about Richie Incognito allegedly bullying him is because he's afraid of retribution from his teammate.

From PFT: "Shefter detailed a situation in which Martin was intimidated by Incognito to contribute $15,000 toward a trip to Las Vegas by the team’s offensive lineman.  Martin, according to Schefter, didn’t want to go and ultimately didn’t go — but he surrendered the money anyway.

If true, it’s the really rich guy example of someone stealing someone else’s lunch money.

Schefter also explained that there are text messages and at least one voice message proving harassment and justifying Martin’s fears for retribution.  Schefter added that Martin’s recent comments to Incognito explaining that Martin doesn’t blame his teammates for harassment also arose from concerns by Martin that he’ll face retaliation if he accuses Incognito of doing anything wrong."

Meanwhile, over at CBS, Jason LaCanfora paints an ugly picture of Incognito. He says La Canfora Incognito likes to intentionally walk into people, make "others feel uncomfortable and make threatening remarks" to Martin.

Ok, Salguero time out.

Let's be clear here:

This is a very complex and multi-layered story. There are multiple sides serving as sources.

There is the Martin side (which includes his agent). There is the Dolphins side (which is outlined in their statement). There is the Incognito side (which he has made clear through his twitter defense). All of these have a public side. All of these are also putting information out to the media as sources. All of them.

And somewhere in all of this is, well, the truth.

You cannot believe everything coming from the team because it has an agenda -- to protect its own interests with the least possible damage to itself. You cannot believe everything coming from the Martin side because it has an agenda -- to protect the player, get him back into the locker room, while also making Incognito stop whatever alleged actions he's been undertaking. You cannot believe everything coming from Incognito's side because he has an agenda -- to remove the focus from his as a bully, to deny the allegations, and protect his name.

All of them have agendas. All of them.

All of them are speaking to the media either directly or as sources.

And as they all have different agendas, you are getting different stories.

So what's my point?

This is a mess.

Dolphins: Not under investigation, no bullying concern

The Dolphins this morning released to the media a statement about right tackle Jonathan Martin. It reads:

"The Miami Dolphins, including Coach Joe Philbin and Jonathan's teammates, have been in communication with Jonathan and his family since his departure from the club and continue to be in contact.  Our primary concern for Jonathan is his overall health and well-being.  As an organization, we take any accusations of player misconduct seriously. The notion of bullying is based on speculation and has not been presented to us as a concern from Jonathan or anyone else internally.  The reports that the NFLPA is investigating our players are inaccurate. Additionally, the NFL offered its assistance during this time, which we appreciated and gladly accepted. We will continue to make Jonathan's health and well-being a focus as we do with all of our players."

The statement is push-back against a FOX Sports report citing unnamed sources stating Martin was victimized by bullying in the Dolphins locker room and an ESPN report that cited unnamed sources saying left guard Richie Incognito was the subject of an NFL Players Association investigation into bullying tactics against Martin.

Additionally, Incognito, who was the focus of the ESPN report written by Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, went on something of a twitter rant this morning demanding the record and his name be cleared.

Incognito tweeted to Shefter: "Stop slandering my name.  You hide behind "sources" who are not man enough to put their name behind the BS you report."

And this:

And this:

It is interesting that coach Joe Philbin was asked directly on Thursday and Friday if indeed Martin was being bullied. He could have crushed the story right then and there. Instead, he said he was aware of the allegations but did not chose to confirm or deny them at the time.

“I’m aware of this report. I can say without question that we emphasize a culture of team-first accountability and respect for one another. Any behavior that deviates from that is inconsistent from the values of our organization. That’s all I’ll say in regards to that."

He was asked directly if he has seen any bullying in the locker room.

"Again, this is something we take very seriously and will not be tolerated,"

So instead of simply saying on Friday he was not aware of any bullying or had not heard complaints of any bullying, Philbin let the situation fester, let what the Dolphins now say was wrong information continue to drive the narrative. Until, of course, the release of today's statement that answers the question three days later.

And the cost for that charade?

Incognito's name was associated with bullying. Martin's public image, already troubled after he left the team due to his emotional ills, looks worse because the bullying story made him look as if he has not ability to defend himself.

In other words, the Dolphins are now trying to manage a public relations problem they helped foster by talking in circles when asked direct questions last week.