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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.





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It sounds more like since Martin can't play Left Tackle as a starter in the NFL for the Dolphins and has been relegated back to Right Tackle, he suddenly gets mad over some little childish prank and storms out! Now, he wants to yell, "I'm a victim!" and look for anything he can find to get himself off of the team, possibly traded, just because his feelings got hurt! How do you bully a man his size anyways? If it's Incognito, then Martin should have had a man-to-man talk with him! Or, of it's something that's been going on since Martin was drafted, he should have talked to Philbin about it! The timing of this stinks to high heaven! And, now...Incognito has been suspended pending the NFL's investigation into the incident! That's 2 O-linemen that can't play because of this BS!

Besides, Martin sucks! If he had come in and dominated, we wouldn't be having this discussion....

Martin cant be cut or will be cut..he is on the WPP. For you IDIOTS, the witness protection program. He is material witness and is probably providing the authorities with DNA evidence.

Cogs is now saying he's been suspended indefinitely. Man thats one Hell of an OL we're going to field for he game against Tampa. cue Nate Garner, Danny Wadkins and Dallas Thomas.....

Yeah, yeah, almost every player fans in Armando's blog screams to get rid of blossoms on his NEW TEAM.

Cut or trade Martin and he probably goes on to become a top 5 NFL LT too. Haven't dolfans figured it out yet? Players you scream to get rid of eventually move or are moved by management and become pro bowlers with their new teams.

We're always left moving on to the next scrub. In a sick way I think this makes some fans here happy. 1-2 playoff appearances in 15yrs, yet you're always content to move on to the next non-playoff year, and have nerve to beetch about it too.

I really wanted to respond profoundly here. But when I think back to high school and even college - to the sheer number of bullies, sociopaths and god-complexed athletes...

I hope Martin gets help if he needs it. And for his teammates...maybe you guys should be more concerned about your careers than who pays for dinners or Vegas trips.

There is a reason a stereotype exists about athletes. And the one's that the stereotype does not apply to should be reigning in those for whom it does.

I cannot even watch football anymore. When did these crybaby millionaires take over what used to be a mans sport? Why not just make it flag football and have counselors for couches? This whole country has gotten so god damn politically correct it's just ridiculous.

Sean Smith, going to the playoffs
Anthony Fasano, going to the playoff
Vontae Davis, going to the playoffs

Why does it almost always seems player dolfans in Armando's blog screams to get rid of either:

A. Plays much better
B. Goes to the playoffs
C. Gets their first Super Bowl ring
D. Sometimes All of the above

I TOLD YOU guys this was a sexually explicit miscoundut issue a lot more than just acollege joke, prank and involved a sexually implicit issue with some kind blackmail offer…ALL OF YOU CAN CHECK MY TIMELINE IN THIS BLOG….GOIT

Posted by: Darryl Dunphy | November 03, 2013 at 06:26 PM

DD, perhaps 3 years ago, BEFORE the new rookie cap was in place, having rookies with 5mill guaranteed paying 5k each for a trip was no biggie. But that's all changed now.
Sure it's football, or the NBA, or the NHL, etc. But it is a job, a workplace, and SOME boundaries need to be in place.The easiest ways for rookies to "excuse themselves' from the rituals would be to use the "it's against my religion" clause. Same with vets who look on some of the the "traditions" with disdain. Curiosity makes me wonder if Tebow PARTICIPATED in the PERPETRATIONS of the same indignities he was forced to suffer?

I really don't care about this topic at all. The team and NFL will handle it how they handle it. It's not surprising to see a bunch of man-children go too far with a prank. It's why I don't associate with people like that, they just don't get maturity.

I hoped that this all happened prior to regular season. Why prank and embarrass rookies after the season starts? You need the players to be mentally focused. Maybe its why they lost 4 in a row. I think the coach is terrible, he finally work up and saw that Miller should be the premiere back. I helps a weak quarter back when you can run the ball.

But if the worse that they did was move his car and leave him at a lunch table by himself, then the guy is an idiot. He won't be welcomed in any locker room. Don't compare physical hazing (blood wings) with pranks. It is not the same thing

I think leaving him at a lunch table by himself is grounds for not only suspension of the offending players, but firing of the GM, the head coach, the assistant coaches, the cheerleaders, the mascot, and dissolution of the team. Marino's records should be erased and all the hall of famers removed from Canton. It's alarming that this is not the national headline on all tv and radio stations. What have we come to when we allow this type of behavior? Who are we? Savages? I'm going to iron my skirt now and get ready for work. Jeesh!!!!! Tom.

These people are supposed to be professionals.
Their conduct is reprehensible.
Any respectable organization would get rid of all of these miscreants.
In a perfect world, Ross would sell the team.
Ireland, Philbin, and Incognito would be fired.
Martin would not be brought back for his own well being.
The Dolphins owe their fans an apology.

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