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5 posts from November 11, 2013

November 11, 2013

Stephen Ross shows a lot of love for Philbin

TAMPA -- This is what Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in his opening remarks tonight when he met with the media.

You will note the love he shows for Dolphins coach Joe Philbin. You will note he does not mention Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland:

In the past two weeks, our primary concern has been for Jonathan Martin.  Immediately after learning that Jonathan left the team, I spoke with Head Coach Joe Philbin and Joe visited with Jonathan in person that evening.  Over the ensuing days, both Joe and I reached out to Jonathan to express our concern and to offer our support.  Jonathan and I have exchanged texts as recently as this weekend, and I am scheduled to meet with him in person to see how he is doing and to listen to his concerns.   As I noted last week, I reached out to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and asked him to conduct an independent review of these allegations and I am grateful that Ted Wells will be leading the effort.  We have pledged our full cooperation in that endeavor. In addition, last week, we began our own internal review of policies and procedures to determine if there are immediate areas which can be improved upon.  I have asked President and CEO Tom Garfinkel to lead this effort.

Joe Philbin is a big part of that review process.  Joe is a man of high character who routinely communicates to our players our expectations of behavior and he espouses the values that we stand behind. He genuinely cares about our players—you can see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. A final step is the creation of an independent advisory group to review our current organizational conduct policies and to make recommendations on areas for improvement. I have asked former NFL Head Coaches Don Shula and Tony Dungy, along with former players Dan Marino, Curtis Martin and Jason Taylor, to be a part of this group and we will announce further additions in the coming days.  Together, these men bring integrity, respect and diverse experiences to the discussion, some having just recently retired from the locker room.

Joe Philbin and others will be a part of the process, as will current Dolphin players.  I want to be clear: this effort is to improve the Miami Dolphins only and is not intended to be a blueprint for other franchises. The working group will begin its charge after the season.  The NFL locker room is a special place, no doubt, but that does not mean that different rules of decency and respect should be in play.  Winning championships is what we are all about, but we cannot do so if any of our family members are challenged from reaching their potential. I want to thank the Dolphin fans and alumni for their patience as we work towards a stronger organization.

Live blog on Dolphins vs. Bucs

TAMPA -- The inactive for the Dolphins today are Dimitri Patterson, Pat Devlin, Mike Gillislee, Koa Misi, David Arkin, Dallas Thomas and Jonathan Martin.

The loss of Patterson means Nolan Carroll starts at cornerback. The loss of Misi mean Jason Trusnik starts at outside linebacker.

We have a live blog.

And as you know, there is the other news. I will add that to another post if you're interested.

Join me for the live blog.

Ross: It's been a 'nightmare," "appalling," "an embarrassment"

TAMPA -- Dolphins owner Stephen Ross announced today he has named two committees to help the Dolphins address the current Incognito-Martin contoversy.

One of those is impressive. It will include: Tony Dungy, Curtis Martin, Dan Marino, Jason Taylor and Don Shula. That committee will be an advisory group to make recommendations on conduct in the locker room.

The other will include: Joe Philbin, Jeff Ireland, Dawn Aponte and team CEO Tom Garfinkel. That committee will review Dolphins policies.

Ross also said he will meet with Jonathan Martin Wednesday to further understand a situation he called "an embarrassment," "appalling" and a "nightmare" during a 15 minute press conference. 

The highlights from that press conference:

Ross said he texted Martin to ask him how he felt and to lend support. Of the coming meeting, "I'd like to hear from him what happened." Ross did not mention meeting Incognito until he was asked about it. He seemed uncomfortable with the idea of actually talking to his former player. I have reported Incognito has played his last game for the Dolphins.

Ross said there will be no racial slurs, nor harrassing nor bullying in that Dolphins locker room. Ross said, "I apologize to the fans for being in this position."

Ross said he doesn't want to make excuses and wants "to make our workplace the best workplace in NFL."

Ross was very, very supportive of coach Joe Philbin. It was clear the owner is comfortable with Philbin. Other than to say he was naming Ireland to that second committee, he didn't mention his general manager.

As I have reported if Ross is going to choose between one and the other, it will be Philbin. And not Ireland.

Changes coming but none decided

TAMPA -- Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who is in town to watch his team play against the Buccaneers tonight and is scheduled to talk to the media at 6 p.m., fully expects to make "significant" changes within the organization following the NFL investigation and season, according to a source.

But ...

Ross has made no final decision on the future of coach Joe Philbin or general manager Jeff Ireland, the source said. Furthermore, the source said, if Ross is pressured to dismiss one or the other, barring incriminating details in the NFL report that forces his hand otherwise, Ross is more likely to keep Philbin than Ireland.

Ross, I am told, is fond of and respects the job both Philbin and Ireland have been doing. Philbin is the owner's first signature hire since taking full control of the Dolphins in 2009. Ross also reportedly gave Ireland a one-year contract extension before the start of the 2013 season -- an endorsement of the job he felt the general manager was doing.

The NFL is investigating the Richie Incognito-Jon Martin situation. But in speaking with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Ross is said to have asked for a review that included everyone in the organization and not just the players involved.

That means Ross wants to know what role if any, his coaching staff (including assistants) had in the issue. He wants to know what role if any his personnel department played in the issue. He wants to know what role if any top football administrators played in the issue.

The results of that review and the results the Dolphins will continue to get on the field are expected to be the factors Ross uses to weigh his employees' future.

Rosey Grier wants to help Martin, Incognito

TAMPA -- My phone rang with a number I didn't recognize moments ago and when I answered, the man on the other end of the line was Rosey Grier, the last surviving member of the Los Angeles Rams Fearsome Foursome defensive line of the 1960s.

Grier, who I've never spoken to before, told me the reason he was calling is he's hurting over the Incognito-Martin scandal that has hit the Dolphins and he wants to do something about it. So he was looking for contact information for both men because he wants to talk to and counsel both men.

Grier said he's acting on the request of an old acquaintance who is a long-time Dolphins fan. He said that fan is hurting and embarrassed about the Dolphins current situation.

"I'm hurting for these men and that team too," Grier said. "This shouldn't be happening. I'm embarassed for that team. When you're on a team you should be pulling together, not pulling apart. And when players are on opposite sides of things, it should be settled within the team. It shouldn't become this big national story."

Grier, an ordained reverend, believes he can help soothe the issues between Martin and Incognito if he can talk to them. And that's what he intends to do as soon as possible because he is not only worried the issue could splinter the locker room but an entire city.

"You got one set of people siding with Martin and others with Incognito," Grier said. "We don't need that. We need to be coming together."

Grier tells me the idea of a player using the N-word is not foreign to him in a locker room or any other place. He heard it plenty. He also told me when we was at Penn State he was aware coaches told the team's center to rough him up so he'd become a better player.

"That didn't last long," Grier said with a chuckle. "It didn't work with me because I took care of it. And I don't think you rough up somebody to make them a better ballplayer. It only made me mad. You don't want a player mad. You make a better player by getting him in shape."

Grier said he would like Martin and Incognito to sit down with each other and reconcile.

With respect to Grier, that's hard to imagine happening. It certainly won't be a Dolphins sanctioned meeting.

As I've reported, the Dolphins are not bringing Incognito back. And as it was made clear last week on this blog, it was pretty evident Martin will not be back in the Dolphins locker room again. ESPN today is reporting Martin agrees and doesn't expect to return to the Dolphins this year.

The Dolphins do have a football game tonight. As I write in my column today the Dolphins and Buccaneers both are fighting drama.

But the distinction I draw between them is the Dolphins are fighting external drama. The Bucs have internal drama.

Which is easier to overcome?

I believe the externior drama could serve to galvanize the Dolphins. I believe the team could rally much easier than the Bucs could.