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68 posts from November 2013

November 11, 2013

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.

November 10, 2013

Some words between linemen actually help Dolphins

At a time the words used between Dolphins offensive linemen has come under national scrutinty, it's ironic the Dolphins themselves have instituted a one-word system of communicating between their left guard and left tackle that is used on every play to benefit the team.

Since Bryant McKinnie arrived in Miami via trade from the Baltimore Ravens two weeks ago, he's been working to learn the playbook.

"I'm pretty good with that," McKinnie said. "I'm not 100 percent, I'd say probably 85 percent."

The remainding 15 percent deals with important stuff. McKinnie, you see, is not quite sure about blocking adjustments against certain defenses. And so before each play or pre-snap, the left guard, more experienced in the Dolphins offense, will give McKinnie a translation of sorts on what to do.

Originally it was Richie Incognito giving McKinnie the code. Now it's Nate Garner who will be telling McKinnie the code pre-snap.

"It's one word we use," Garner said. "Just one word per play. That's what we're trying to get it down to."

"It's certain terminology we use with each other to to confirm exactly what we're doing," McKinnie said. "I know the run plays and the pass plays. It's just about combination blocks and who I have to pick up on the blitzes. Stuff like that. That type of communication."

The exchange between the guard and tackle has worked very well so far. McKinnie did not allow a sack against Cincinnati once the system was instituted. 

"We did a pretty good job of doing it last week and this week we had a little more practice at it during practice," Garner said. "Sometimes he doesn't even need my help. He's been around the league 13 years. He's a vet. He gets one word out of me and he knows what to do."

Incognito: Racism, bad words 'what I regret most'

There's a saying that any man who serves as his own lawyer has a dummy as a client. Well, here's a new corollary to that and it's, if you're suspended from your $235,000 a week job because you are being accused of racism and the NFL is investigating you, it's probably not a great idea to go on national television.

Yet that is what Richie Incognito is doing today. He taped an interview with FOX on Saturday and portions of it will be aired starting at noon on the FOX pregame show.

And in that interview, Incognito admits he used racial epithets with teammate Jonathan Martin. And he tried to excuse himself for doing that in his best social scientist approach possible by saying that's just the way things are in the Dolphins locker room.

"All this stuff coming out, it speaks to the culture of our locker room, it speaks to the culture of our closeness, it speaks to the culture of our brotherhood," Incognito says in the interview.

"And the racism, the bad words," here it comes, "that's what I regret most, but that's a product of the environment and that's what we use all the time."

[Update: Incognito tells FOX he and Martin just communicated differently. He said the week before Martin left the team, the tackle left him a text message that read in part, "I will murder your whole (expletive) famil." "Now, did I believe Jonathan Martin was going to murder my entire family? No," Incognito said.]

The sound you hear is Incognito's career going down the tubes.

One way Incognito could emerge from this NFL investigation with a light sentence, so to speak, is if he can show that he was compelled to treat Martin as he did. In other words, if he was acting under orders. He declined to address that topic in the interview. Another way he can get off easier is if he can show that his employer knew of the treatment and did nothing, thus tacitly approving of his behavior.

But if Incognito's logic for calling his teammate a "half-n----r" as he did in that infamous voice message is that it's just the culture and the brotherhood and an alternate approach to communicating, then the roof is going to drop on him.

In a preview of the interview released by FOX, Incognito says of the scandal: "This isn't an issue about bullying. This is an issue about my and Jon's relationship."

Wonder if Martin would agree?

Incognito says what we already know when he encourages people to ask teammates who they believed had Martin's back most. "They'll undoubtedly tell you me," he said.

I've been told Incognito in the interview claimed he and Martin where friends. He expresses concern for his former teammate, particularly his health. Incognito talks of being surprised by the Dolphins suspending him.

Will there be a bombshell? I doubt it.

But tune in anyway.

November 09, 2013

Incognito violated NFL policy before but was he sanctioned?

In my column in today's Miami Herald I reference that golf outing incident during Fins Weekend in May of 2012 when Richie Incognito apparently sexually harassed and otherwise commited simple battery on an unemployed black woman who was volunteering as a hole monitor at the tournament.

The police report right here suggests Incognito acted like something of an oaf and bully.

According to the victim, Incognito used his golf club to touch her by rubbing it up against her vagina, then up her stomach then to her chest. He then used the club to knock sunglasses off the top of her head. After that, he proceeded to lean up against her buttocks with his private parts as if dancing, saying "Let it rain. Let it rain." He finally finished by emptying a bottled water on her face.

This is not in dispute. This happened. I have spoken to people who attended and the incident was the talk of the day. 

So why did we not hear anything about it until now? Well, Incognito and the Dolphins did a bang-up job of making the issue go away. The victim was paid off. And the team swept the issue under the proverbial rug.

Coach Joe Philbin, who was in his third month as Dolphins coach at the time, didn't cut Incognito. Oh, the coach was seen that season as standing up for the right kind of players, as Miami cut Chad Johnson after his domestic violence issue and traded Vontae Davis because, in part, he went to the bathroom too much during practice.

But Incognito, who did this misdeed, remained part of the team and locker room. He was one of the men Philbin talked about when he often said the Dolphins have the right kind of character in the locker room.

And still that is not the most worrisome thing here.

You see, this incident was a clear violation of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.

The policy reads, in part:

"While criminal activity is clearly outside the scope of permissible conduct, and persons who engage in criminal activity will be subject to discipline, the standard of conduct for persons employed in the NFL is considerably higher. It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. Instead, as an employee of the NFL or a member club, you 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."

Furthermore, NFL policy demands that clubs report any incident that possibly violates the conduct policy to the NFL. There are no exceptions. The fact no arrest was made or no conviction reached does not relieve the club from the burden of alerting the NFL.

And then, ladies and gentlemen, the ball is in the NFL's court.

So did the Dolphins call the NFL or blow off the policy?

Did the NFL investigate or not?

Was there punishment on Incognito or not for this obvious violation of the NFL Conduct Policy?

I contacted the NFL on Friday and was told by a spokesman the league would not comment, citing the fact the league is not commenting on Incognito during its current investigation relative to the Jonathan Martin issue.

The Dolphins similarly are not commenting.

Here's the thing: Incognito missed no games, thus he was not suspended either by the league or the Dolphins. He was not cut from the team nor banished by the league. The strongest punishment he could have received, if any, was a fine that was not announced by the NFL.

(By the way, persons violating the policy are generally required to undergo a clinical evaluation and based on the results, may have to get counseling or treatment of some type. But regardless of whether the person gets counseling or treatment, those are not considered punishment).

The point is if the Dolphins and the NFL did their jobs in the 2012 incident, Incognito now faces sanctions as a repeat offender of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy. That would be bad for Incognito.

According to the policy:

"With respect to repeat offenders, the Commissioner may impose discipline on an enhanced and/or expedited basis. In such cases, the timing and nature of the discipline will be determined by the Commissioner based on several factors including but not limited to: the severity of the initial charge and later charge; the facts underlying the later charge; the length of time between the initial offense and later charge; and the player or employee’s compliance with counseling and other programs. Following a full investigation and/or resolution of the proceedings, the Commissioner will review the matter and make any appropriate adjustments."

That assumes action the first time a year ago. 

But if the club or the league looked the other way last year, then Incognito's alleged harassing of a 6-5 teammate got the Dolphins' and NFL's attention like the harassing of a 5-5 "civilian" woman could not. And that would look bad for the institutions.

November 08, 2013

Dolphins America's team: For wrong reasons

In the last three days I've gotten calls and texts from former players and current players. I talked to people from coast to coast. I've turned on the TV and seen the Dolphins on every broadcast and cable station available.

The Dolphins are a hit!

They're national!

And it is terrible.

The Dolphins, you see, are a national story now for all the wrong reasons. The team's name? Sullied. Reputation? In the dumpster and on fire. The narrative? When is Joe Philbin being fired, when is Jeff Ireland being fired, when is Dawn Aponte losing her power, when is Stephen Ross selling?

By the way, speaking of Ross. He lives in New York City. You know what he had with his morning coffee if he picked up the New York Daily News today? A-hole

I present the back page of Friday's New York Daily News.

The Washingon Post, Los Angeles Times and New York Times have written stories localizing the current Dolphins scandal. The New York Post and Daily News both sent reporters to South Florida to cover the story. One Post columnist told me Thursday, "My newspaper can't get enough of this story."

And the problem with that for you and the Dolphins? People are laughing now. Not with you. Not with them. At them. At you for supporting them. (At me for covering them, by the way). The Dolphins an object of scorn and mocking.

None of this is graceful. None of it has a positive side.

The Dolphins are getting punked.

But don't get the idea that I think they're victims. They are not. Yes, the media is over the top and the attention is hysterical and overblown. But the Dolphins brought this plague upon themselves. It is of their own birthing.

They had Incognito in a position of team leadership. Leadership in the locker room and administration failed to see any signs of wrongdoing -- or at least that's the contention. Philbin? Offensive line coach Jim Turner? No idea? The personnel department was good with both Incognito and Martin on the team and actually counted heavily on both -- because, after all, Martin was supposed to protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill's blindside and Incognito was supposed to protect Martin and help him grow into the job. Really?  And Aponte, who edits Philbin's post-game locker room speeches meticulously but fails to remove that uncomfortable part where he's reading from an index card ... Why did she allow the public service announcement at Sun Life Stadium that educates fans on civility and behavior to star ... Incognito?

Look, the people within the Dolphins organization claiming complete ignorance of the apparent tension in Martin's mind over Incognito and others are either lying, which makes them complicit, or out of touch, which makes them incompetent.

Either way, it is grounds for dismissal. 

The media didn't put Martin and Incognito in that locker room. The media's job is not to monitor the intimate relationships among teammates. Don't shoot the messenger even if the message gets too loud at times.

The Dolphins are a sad national joke now because the Dolphins put themselves there. That story about Incognito abusing a volunteer golf assistant at a team sponsored event? The team said it would handle the situation and the way it was handled was paying her to keep quiet. The National Football Post today reported Incognito called offensive line meetings at a strip club and fined players if they didn't show up. Sure, you can chalk this up to boys being boys, I guess, if you're a morally corrupt individual. But then you allow Incognito to be a member of the leadership council? You put him on the stadium HD screen preaching good behavior?

A coach, aware of Incognito's penchant for drinking and past drug use, overrides the player vote for leadership council. Joe Philbin this week hid behind it, saying it was players, not him who made Incognito a team leader.

(Note to coach: It's not a democracy. You know this. Did you forget in this one instance?) 

Some fans see what's going on. And they've had enough. Fans have been writing to me and telling me they are through with the franchise. Others say they'll never buy a ticket again until major changes in leadership are enacted.

Consider that the Dolphins had 70,660 people at Sun Life Stadium for the season home opener. Then 68,342 for the second home game. Then 60,592 for the third home game. And 52,388 for the fourth home game. Notice the trend?

Fans were abandoning this team in droves before the current scandal. You think any part of the last week is going to convince them to return?

We've seen this kind of situation before. You'll recall the New England Patriots had this little scandal called Spygate. And their reputation suffered. You'll recall the New Orleans Saints had this little scandal called Bountygate. And their reputation suffered.

Both teams got slimed. Both teams forged ahead. Both teams mostly recovered.

But both those teams enjoyed a reservoir of goodwill the Dolphins don't possess. The Patriots had three Super Bowl wins in their pocket. The Saints also recently won a Lombardi trophy. The coaches and owners that presided over those franchises in the time of crisis were the same that presided over the franchise in the best of times. So they got a pass.

The Dolphins get no pass. Stephen Ross has not presided over one winning season during his four-and-one half seasons as owner. Jeff Ireland has not put together one winning team during his four-and-a-half years as GM. Joe Philbin's career record is 11-13.

Fans recognize this. Media recognize this. These facts are not in dispute.

None of this sewage sandwich that is the Incognito-Martin-NFL scandal is good for business or morale or reputation. All of it reeks. And now everyone on the Dolphins smells bad.

November 07, 2013

Statement from Jonathan Martin attorney here

Jonathan Martin's family this week hired sports attorney David Cornwell to represent the Dolphins offensive lineman. On Thursday evening Cornwell released the following statement:

Jonathan Martin’s toughness is not at issue. Jonathan has started every game with the Miami Dolphins since he was drafted in 2012. At Stanford, he was the anchor for Jim Harbaugh’s “smash mouth” brand of football and he protected Andrew Luck's blind side.

"The issue is Jonathan’s treatment by his teammates. Jonathan endured harassment that went far beyond the traditional locker room hazing.  For the entire season-and-a-half that he was with the Dolphins, he attempted to befriend the same teammates who subjected him to the abuse with the hope that doing so would end the harassment.  This is a textbook reaction of victims of bullying.  Despite these efforts, the taunting continued.  Beyond the well-publicized voice mail with its racial epithet, Jonathan endured a malicious physical attack on him by a teammate, and daily vulgar comments such as the quote

"These facts are not in dispute.

"Eventually, Jonathan made a difficult choice. Despite his love for football, Jonathan left the Dolphins. Jonathan looks forward to getting back to playing football. In the meantime, he will cooperate fully with the NFL investigation.

"Quote from teammate: “We are going to run train on your sister. . . . She loves me. I am going to (expletive) her without a condom and (expletive) in her (expletive).”

Could Martin return to the locker room? Not likely

A ranking Dolphins source told me several days ago, before the iron curtain of an NFL investigation locked the club down tighter than a tuna can, that Richie Incognito would never play for the Dolphins again.

There was apparently no way this football administration could see bringing back Incognito, who is suspended for conduct detrimental to the team and unsigned next year, to this roster after the allegations involving workplace harassment and racial epithets got out.

Well, what about the other player involved?

Could Jonathan Martin, who is on indefinite leave from the team albeit so far paid, ever be brought back?

First, I'm sure the club would hate to lose its second-round investment on an admittedly struggling but nonetheless starting player. Second, the club divesting itself of the portrayed victim in this case might open it up to legal exposure.

But here's the thing: Even if the Dolphins' administration would like to bring back Martin to avoid further problems or even civil action, the locker room does not necessarily look like it wants Martin back. Oh, some players are towing the company line and saying they want Martin to get better and be well. And some are admitting it is not really their call whether Martin returns or not.

But ask their opinion and it is clear the players' are not enthusiastic about the idea of Martin returning to the team. That's because, like it or not, Martin has violated a trust some players' minds.

"I'm not sure how everybody would feel about him, but I mean, that was his situation and he felt he needed to do it then I guess so be it, but some things you like to keep in house," left tackle Bryant McKinnie said.

And how important is that?

"It's pretty important, I mean, a lot of things need to kept in house because that's your family."

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, perhaps the most non-threatening player on offense and someone with an open mind, admitted re-integrating either Martin or Incognito would be difficult.

“It’s tough," Tannehill said. "Both guys at this point have their rights and wrongs. If they were allowed to come back, if they chose to come back, I’m big on forgiving people. Forgiving people of what they’ve done, getting past that and not crucifying people for their past and moving forward."

But even in stating he's big on forgiving, Tannehill is showing that he believes Martin needs forgiveness.

For what, you might ask?

Martin went AWOL from the team days before a big game. He has not spoken publicly but everyone in the organization and anyone who is following this story understands his representatives have downloaded information from the player and are leaking it to the media, thus sliming Incognito and the Dolphins.

And, ultimately, players don't quite know what to make of Martin anymore. So they do not trust him.

"I haven't been here very long," right tackle Tyson Clabo said. "But I've been here long enough to see that if there was a problem, Jonathan Martin needed to show it. And I've been here long enough to see that those two were thick as thieves and that they went out together and hung out together. They did a lot of stuff together. So if [Martin] had a problem with the way that guy was treating him, he had a funny way of showing it.

"I think that if you have a problem with somebody, a legitimate problem, you should say, 'Hey I have a problem and stand up and be a man.' ... There is no code of silence. I don't think that what happened was necessary. I think it's just [decency]. I don't know why he's doing this and the only person that knows why is Jonathan Martin."

It has been suggested by more than one former Dolphins player that I've talked to that the only way Martin could return to the Dolphins would be with a new coaching staff, new personnel department, and practically new locker room. In other words, the current Dolphins would have to be nuked for his return to work.

Others have told me Martin needs to apologize.

It's an interesting culture, the NFL, one where the alleged victim would have to apologize. But that is how it is.

Dolphins unite in the face of drama (updated)

Everybody is aware Dolphins players hit back on Wednesday. In what seemed like a well practiced, well executed blitz, players throughout the entire locker room defended the team's leadership, defended the team's coaching staff, and mostly, defended Richie Incognito -- giving new context to the Incognito-Martin scandal.

Well, the truth about that apparent orchestrated offensive is that it was kind of orchestrated.

And it went against Joe Philbin's previous explicit orders to players Monday to not discuss the issue in the media. Philbin often tells players the message they should pass to the media.

But by Wednesday, the head coach had changed his mind. Philbin told players in a morning meeting to defend themselves.

And as a group of players, fed up with the scandal, the Dolphins broke their silence.

"We were at a point where we weren't told to say anything. We weren't going to talk. There's an investigation. Plain and simple. You guys expected that," receiver Brian Hartline said. "And now we're able to say our opinion and really protect ourselves from being bullied by [the media] because we weren't talking. Nobody said a word. We weren't fighting back. There were no comments from Richie. There were no comments from us. And we just sat back and listened to it a couple of days.

"And we got kind of tired of it. We got to the point, and you guys can judge, but it caught us all off guard and it's a shame it happened."

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill said players talked about the scandal as a team and decided to come closer as a team.

“Well yes, it’s nonstop," Tannehill said. "I feel like today’s been much better. Guys aren’t discussing the whole thing like the past few days. Obviously, everyone’s hearing about it. Our phones are blowing up from anyone we’ve ever come in contact about the situation. There has been a lot of chatter about it but, today I think guys are happy to stick to each other, have each other’s backs and get ready to play.”

There has been speculation about how disastrous this issue could be to the Dolphins' on-field chances.

I think that speculation is going to be proven wrong. I don't see a team divided. I don't see a team cracking under pressure.

I see a team that is under external pressures but not necessarily divided internally.

We won't know until Monday night in Tampa when the Dolphins play an 0-8 opponent that, guess what, also has had its share of drama.

[Update: The players were told to get back on message today -- which is to say, stop talking again. "We've been told to only talk about Tampa Bay," guard Nate Garner said.]

[Correction: Previously I was told Philbin's orginal orders stood Wednesday. They did not. He changed them Wednesday and changed them again Thursday.]   

Sage Rosenfels: Ireland 'worst GM'

First the ProFootballTalk story that implicates Jeff Ireland as having knowledge of Jonathan Martin's complaints that Richie Incognito was making his life difficult. And now a former Dolphins player is taking to twitter gutting the Dolphins general manager with his words.

Sage Rosenfels played for the Dolphins from 2002 to 2005 and then for a short time in 2011. And during that second stint he acquired a distaste for Ireland.

"I played for 5 teams and 9 GMs and Ireland is the only 1 I had a problem with," Rosenfels tweeted today. "I only spent two weeks on the Dolphins when Ireland was the GM. In that short time he won the award for worst GM in my career."

Then, on twitter, Rosenfels added a hashtag -- #jerk 

And then, in the context of the Incognito-Martin scandal on his mind, Rosenfels went on to describe his problem:

"My reasons for my disdain for Ireland are a long story. It took about an hour to find out what everyone in that locker room thought of him. Two months after being put on Non Football Injury list with mono, I had gotten healthy and wanted to play. He wouldn't let me off NFI.....because the Dolphins played the Raiders that week and he didn't want them to sign me as I knew the Phins offense. Makes sense except...the Raiders were the only NFL team that had 4 QBs on their roster. He waited until late Friday to release me figuring nobody would....sign me that late in the week. Luckily, the Vikings cut McNabb and signed me that night. There is more but that is the basics of it.

"I understand GMs always put their teams first. I respect that. But he was being a jerk just because he could. That's why he won the award. Everyone gets screwed over at some point in their career. It's the business. But there is story after story that has the same ring to it."

Rosenfels, obviously believing the ProFootballTalk story on Ireland, also said: "I have no reason to help out either side. I hope it ends sooner than later. Just giving my two cents. The whole situation is a tragedy."

Actually, Rosenfels was represented during his playing days by agent Rick Smith. And Smith is one of the agents representing Martin.

So I reached out to Rosenfels and asked him to address that apparent bias.

"I haven't even talked to Rick," he told me. "I'd say the same thing if IMG or Dave Dunn represented Martin. Or if Rick represented Richie."

Obviously, this is a sad story for the entire Dolphins organization. Players in the locker room are expressing their opinions and they solidly back Incognito. Players around the league are expressing their opinions and they're ripping the entire Dolphins organization and its leadership structure.

And today two former Dolphins -- Lydon Murtha and Rosenfels -- are sharing their thoughts. And neither is too impressed with Ireland or the Dolphins coaching staff.

Reports: Dolphins knew internally despite denials

Several new layers of the onion that is the Incognito-Martin-NFL review scandal are being peeled back by ProFootballTalk.com and Monday Morning Quarterback this morning. And believing the information in both items should make the Dolphins cry.

In PFT, Mike Florio reports "Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland received a call from Martin’s agent, Rick Smith, before Martin left the team on October 28. Smith complained to Ireland about the manner in which Incognito was treating Martin.

"Ireland, according to the sources, suggested to Smith that Martin physically confront Incognito. Ireland specifically mentioned that Martin should “punch” Incognito."

In MMQB, Peter King had former Dolphins offensive lineman Lydon Murtha write a first-person account of what he saw in the Dolphins locker room of the relationship between Incognito and Martin and the rest of the organization. And he writes, in part, this:

"Incognito was made a scapegoat for the hell coming down on the Dolphins organization, which in turn said it knew nothing about any so-called hazing. That’s the most outlandish lie of this whole thing. The coaches know everything. The coaches know who’s getting picked on and in many cases call for that player to be singled out. Any type of denial on that side is ridiculous."

And taken on its face -- and if true -- this is truly problematic for Dolphins coaches and Ireland.

If the NFL Review, which began Wednesday, shows that one of Martin's agents alerted Ireland and thus the Dolphins that his client felt uncomfortable or harassed or bullied or upset in any fashion and the response from someone as high in the Dolphins command structure as Ireland was to simply suggest Martin "punch" Incognito, it shows a callous disregard for Martin's well-being.

If, as Murtha contends, coaches know everything, then we have a conspiracy on our hands.

And worse, we have a cover-up.

Consider that Dolphins coach Joe Philbin has said on numerous occasions the Dolphins didn't know anything about Martin's uncomfortable feelings regarding Incognito. Consider that on Sunday -- a full six days after Martin left the team and Philbin visited him at the hospital where he was seeking emotional help -- the Dolphins released a statement dismissing allegations of bullying as merely "speculation."

And yet ... these reports.

The Dolphins can only hope that context and full disclosure and facts over opinion all work on their behalf to overshadow this kind of information.

What do I mean by that?

Well, take the Florio report. Obviously there are only two people on that phone conversation between Ireland and Smith. And Ireland isn't talking to anyone per the Dolphins policy of not commenting during the ongoing NFL review and Smith is obviously the source.

And as Smith's agenda is to show cause on Martin's behalf, the information does exactly that.

But I cannot believe an agent calls an NFL GM and they talk about a topic so sensitive and the only theme coming out of the conversation is "punch" Incognito. Ireland would have to be an unserious goof for that to be true. (And he is not).

Perhaps he suggested Martin "punch" Incognito in passing. And perhaps after doing that, the phone call became more serious. We. Do. Not. Know.

One thing: Ireland has two autistic daughters. He knows what it is to have children who are singled out on a daily basis. I find it hard to believe he simply dismissed the idea that one of his players was being singled out in such a cavalier manner.

[Update: Florio, a friend who honors me by reading this blog, emailed me this morning when he saw this post. He writes in part: "The context was that Smith was complaining about Incognito and Ireland expressed confusion as to why this was an issue and said that Martin should go punch him."]

As to Murtha's contention that coaches knew. That is entirely possible. His saying it makes it sound probable. Yet, he does not know. The last time Murtha was in the Dolphins locker room was during the 2012 training camp. It's been fully 15 months since he's been around.

So he's speculating. As Peter King, who runs MMQB, is a good reporter, I assume he read Murtha's draft assertions and asked questions. And the question that begs asking is, "Which coaches know? Name names."

No one is named by Murtha. He paints the assertion with a wide brush stroke. And this investigation is going to require precision stenciling.

So we need specifics. We need more context. We need more information.

But if the allegations in these two reports are accurate, Ireland and the coaching staff are in a world of trouble.

 

 

November 06, 2013

About that voice mail again ... new information

On its face it is horrible. It is offensive. It sounds racist.

The voice mail Richie Incognito left Jonathan Martin in April is at the center of the public distaste for the Dolphins guard. The transcript indeed paints a picture of a bullying veteran using racial epithets against a younger player and threatening that youngster's life:

"Hey, wassup, you half-n----r piece of (expletive). I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. I'll (expletive) in your (expletive) mouth. I'm gonna slap your (expletive) mouth, I'm gonna slap your real mother across the face. (laughter). (Expletive) you, you're still a rookie. I'll kill you."

Damning.

Except ...

The voice mail which Martin kept was later played in the Dolphins locker room around a group of players ... And Martin was the one who played it, according to two players. And he joked about it.

"This is the same guy that was laughing about this voice mail at one point in time, first of all," receiver Brian Hartline said of Martin. "Second of all, I believe that if you look through the whole voice mail, there's some things said that you probably shouldn't say in general, friends or not friends. But I know for a fact, that I've said things to my friends that I kind of wish I've never said, either."

There's another thing. According to a source close to Incognito, the transcript of the voice mail is not complete. It omits the last line.

After Incognito went on this apparent diatribe, his voice softens, and matter-of-factly he says, "Ok, call me back."

And ... Martin called him back, the source said.

Does this release Incognito from the racially charged words? No.

Do this add context? Yes.

Daily reminder: We don't know the entire story. Please withhold judgment condemning or condoning either side until we know everything.

 

Martin-Jordan got into scuffle, Incognito intervened

Last week before he left the team under apparent emotional duress of some sort and well before his camp claimed workplace harassment at the hands of teammate Richie Incognito, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin got into a practice scuffle with rookie Dion Jordan.

Such exchanges, by the way, are not uncommon. They happen plenty.

And, as receiver Brian Hartline related to me in the locker room today, the first person who went to Martin's defense in the fight was, you guessed it, Richie Incognito. And soon center Mike Pouncey was in on it as well on Martin's behalf.

Randy Starks confirmed the little battle as well and said defensive linemen then joined in on behalf of Jordan.

It went as one would expect it to go except ...

The narrative out there is that Incognito was a Martin tormentor who wanted to toughen him up. Well, if Incognito wants Martin toughened up, why would help him in a fight?

The narrative out there is that Martin is physically soft. Well, actually, I've seen Martin in more than a couple of practice tussles and I've seen him take shots at opponents during games. During his rookie year he got into a fight on the field with Starks, who is one tough man, the first week of training camp.

Afterward, Hartline told me, both Incognito and Pouncey were upset with him because in some form or fashion Hartline seemed to agree with Jordan about the exchange.

So even on a non-physical level, Incognito and Pouncey had Martin's back after the fact.

 

 

NFL pledges transparency with investigation findings

Ted Wells, a senior partner in the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and one of the nation’s most prominent attorneys, has been appointed by Commissioner Roger Goodell to direct an independent investigation into issues of workplace conduct at the Miami Dolphins and prepare a report for the commissioner.

The report will be made public, according to the NFL.

 “Ted Wells will independently direct the investigation and submit a report to me,” commissioner Goodell said. “Mr. Wells will conduct a thorough and objective investigation. He will ensure that we have all the facts so that we can address this matter constructively. We have worked previously with Paul Weiss and have great respect for the firm.

"Ted Wells will have full authority to investigate as he deems appropriate. He is on the job as of today and will undertake to complete his work as promptly as possible. Consistent with doing a thorough investigation, we have not imposed a specific timetable on him."

The National Law Journal named Ted Wells one of “The Decade’s Most Influential Lawyers” in 2010. His recent experience in conducting special investigations includes both the Syracuse University basketball team sexual harassment case and the NBA players union leadership dispute. In the latter, he was hired by the NBA players union and generated the report that led to a change in the head of the union.

"I am pleased to accept this appointment by Commissioner Goodell,” Wells said. “My task is to assemble the facts and present my findings to the commissioner. I will do so fairly and comprehensively so that Commissioner Goodell can address this matter properly. I will begin my work immediately and report my findings to the commissioner as soon as practical.”

The Dolphins have pledged the club’s full support for the investigation.

“Under league policy, all employees have the right to a workplace free of any form of harassment,” Commissioner Goodell said. “We are fully committed to an appropriate working environment for all NFL personnel."

Wells received his undergraduate degree from Holy Cross, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a degree from Harvard Law School. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Incognito considered black in Dolphins locker room

One of the most curious aspects of the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin story is how race has become very much a part of it outside the Dolphins locker room -- in the media and among fans and observers -- but not at all so far within the Dolphins locker room.

Think of this:

Richie Incognito left Jonathan Martin a voice mail that, among other things, called Martin a "half-n----r." And Dolphins players of color, knowing of the voicemail, have expressed no problems with Incognito.

"I don't have a problem with Richie," Mike Wallace said. "I love Richie."

"I don't think Richie is a racist," cornerback Brent Grimes said.

"Richie Incognito isn't a racist," tight end Michael Egnew said.

ESPN analyst and former Dolphins wide receiver Cris Carter has know Mike Pouncey since the player's childhood. Today Carter said on air he recently spoke to Mike Pouncey and the center, who is Incognito's friend, addressed race.

"They don't feel as if he's a racist, they don't feel as if he picked on Jonathan repeatedly and bullied him, but if they could do it all over again there would be situations that they might change but they’re very, very comfortable with Richie,” Carter said.

 “They think it’s sad, not only that Jonathan’s not on the football team, but also that Richie is being depicted as a bigot and as a racist.”

How is this possible?

Well, I've spoken to multiple people today about this and the explanation from all of them is that in the Dolphins locker room, Richie Incognito was considered a black guy. He was accepted by the black players. He was an honorary black man.

And Jonathan Martin, who is bi-racial, was not. Indeed, Martin was considered less black than Incognito.

"Richie is honarary," one player who left the Dolphins this offseason told me today. "I don't expect you to understand because you're not black. But being a black guy, being a brother is more than just about skin color. It's about how you carry yourself. How you play. Where you come from. What you've experienced. A lot of things."

Another former Dolphins employee told me Martin is considered "soft" by his teammates and that's a reason he's not readily accepted by some of the players, particularly the black players. His background -- Stanford educated and the son of highly educated people -- was not necessarily seen as a strength or a positive by some players and it perpetuated in the way Martin carried himself.

And so -- agree with it or not, comprehend it or not -- this is a reason the Dolphins haven't turned on Incognito as a racist.

Dolphins leadership? What Dolphins leadership?

The Dolphins are failing on so many levels these days I am having a hard time keeping up.

One issue that seems apparent to current and former players is the Dolphins' obvious lack of leadership.

You remember the leadership issue? It was one of the fundamental questions the Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin relationship brought to light. I told you we'd discuss the questions one at a time in this space.

My column in today's Miami Herald shows why the Dolphins simply don't have a clue about leadership and that's not me talking. That's players from the past saying it, echoing it from mountain tops.

Consider:

“I understand when it comes to the natural football things that take place in a locker room that happens with younger guys or older guys, veterans versus rookies – all of those things, they happen," former defensive lineman Willie McGinist said on NFL Network Tuesday. "But there is a certain point when you cross the line and there was a failure of leadership in that locker room that let this situation get out of hand."

Exactly.

The leadership void is deeper than that. It extends to the coaching ranks, particularly if a Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel report that coaches ordered Incognito to "toughen up" Martin is true. Are you kidding me?

If this report is true, not only is the coaching staff that is supposed to provide direction for the players utterly misguided in the definition of giving good direction, but it has other more potentially significant meanings.

If true -- and the Dolphins refuse to confirm or deny the report as they hide behind an NFL mandated gag order -- the fact a coaching staff would order what is basically a Code Red on a player and use a player who was admittedly mentally unstable in the past to do it shows that staff is not just an accessory to this wrong but is actually complicit in the sin.

And as the offender has been suspended and will be fired by not playing for the Dolphins again, so too the accomplice should be fired and not represent the Dolphins again.

If Incognito has evidence this order was given or if multiple Dolphins player tell the NFL this order was given, Incognito may still not play in Miami but at least he will have a plausible explanation for taking the action he did. He was simply following orders. Obviously, going off on a racially tinged attack is an offensive and ridiculous escalation of the orders, but it did comply with the orders. And so Incognito will live to play another day somewhere in the NFL. 

With respect to the Sun-Sentinel's reporting, I hope the information is not true.

If it is ... The nuclear winter is coming.

 

November 05, 2013

Joe Philbin press conference (tape review)

Joe Philbin and his coaching staff study the tape of every game the Dolphins play after the fact and meet with the team to make corrections. Well, on Monday, the Dolphins coach was in front of his biggest forum -- a group of about 75 media representing more attention-grabbing power than I've ever seen at a club presser -- and he put on his best face to address perhaps the ugliest set of facts ever faced by the franchise.

Philbin had to discuss the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito mess. And below you will find what he said. And below the coach's comments, I will give you my thoughts on what was said as I see fit.

Think of it as going back to the film and correcting the mistakes or issues.

(Opening statement) – “I thought I would start out the press conference by giving you a little of a background on some of the events that have occurred during the last week. Last Monday evening in preparation prior to our preparation for practice against the Cincinnati Bengals, Jonathan Martin left our facility prior to that practice after an incident occurred in our team dining room. Later that evening, he contacted a member of our organization. Soon thereafter I contacted Jonathan personally, requested a meeting with him, at which he readily accepted. I met with him later that evening. We had a good discussion. Throughout the course of the week, I was in contact on multiple occasions with him and members of his family. I spoke to him the day after the game, and I spoke to members of his family over the course of the weekend. As the weekend unfolded, early on Sunday, as you well know, as an organization we released a statement that was 100 percent factual. Soon thereafter, we were contacted by representatives of Jonathan, and before I say that I should let you know that in all my discussions with Jonathan and members of his family, at no time were there any accusations or allegations of misconduct by any members of this team or organization. Later on Sunday, we were contacted by one of his representatives where they in fact had some concerns over player conduct that had occurred. We immediately took those concerns very, very seriously.

Our owner, Steve Ross who has been involved throughout the entire process, contacted the commissioner, Roger Goodell, and requested that the NFL become involved and conduct a review of the work place. We issued a second statement noting we had received information that we were taking very seriously and that we were gathering information on. Throughout the course of the day, we gathered more and more information. At the end of the day, I decided to suspend Richie Incognito based on the information I had at that time. The NFL is going to conduct a review of the work place. It’s going to be comprehensive. It’s going to be objective, and we are going to give as an organization our full and complete co-operation with the NFL. That’s really where things are as of today.

I want you to know as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins I am in charge of the work place atmosphere. Since April 10, 2012 when the players first came here and I was the head coach, every decision I’ve made and everything we’ve done to the facility has been done with one thing in mind, and that is to help our players and our organization reach their full potential. Any type of conduct, behavior that detracts from that behavior is not acceptable and is not tolerated.

Two of my children go to school here right behind here at the University School. As a parent, when they walk through those doors I have certain expectations that the administration, the teachers and the staff are going to create a safe atmosphere where my children can learn and develop as people. This is no different. I take this responsibility very seriously that these players when they walk in this door they feel like they have the best medical care, the best strength and conditioning care, the best coaching, the best fields to practice on, the best technology and the best classrooms to learn in. That’s very important to me. I will tell you if the review shows that this is not a safe atmosphere, I will take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that it is. I have that obligation to the players that I coach on a daily basis, and I will do that. Any questions on that?"

Salguero: I find it strange that in this account Martin met with Philbin the same day he supposedly went AWOL. And yet with the troubling issues that caused him to flee the Dolphins still so fresh, the player could not bring himself to tell Philbin what was troubling him. If that is the case, what the heck did the coach and the player talk about? Zone blocking schemes? I mean, your player leaves the team. You bring him back for a meeting. Question No. 2, after how are you feeling, is why did you leave? Did Philbin ask? Did Martin answer in a fashion that the coach was still unaware about why his player left after that meeting ended?

Also, Philbin and the Dolphins talked to Martin's representation and his family. And still the club didn't know what was troubling Martin on Thursday? How about on Friday when Philbin was asked about reports of misconduct and bullying in the locker room?

How is it the media seemed to know and was reporting on what was troubling Jonathan Martin before Joe Philbin and the Dolphins knew? And how is it that after seeing those reports and talking to the Martin camp some more, the Dolphins still believed the reports to be "speculation" until late Sunday afternoon?

I mean, where are the people and communication skills?

(On if he has talked to Richie Incognito and if he is satisfied with his apology) -  “I’ve been in contact with Richie. Any conversation that I have with any football player on this team are personal and confidential in nature."

Salguero: Bad answer. Sure, it gets Philbin out of having to explain the talk and thus gives him all sorts of plausible deniability about what was said. But ... I'm sure Dolphins fans might have felt better about their coach's leadership ability if he'd said that he explained to Incognito that evidence against him was strong and that he had no tolerance for the stuff the evidence (ie texts and a voicemail message) shows Incognito to have said and written.

(On if he had an inkling that anything like this was going on in the locker room before last Monday) - “That falls under what the NFL review is here for."

Salguero: So earlier in this very presser Philbin says Martin told him nothing specific of the issue and now he's refusing to answer the question? Raises suspicion.

(On if he personally had any idea incidents were going on) – “Again, I want to make clear this. My focus right now is on the men in the locker room, preparing our football team to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I will give my full and complete and total corporation with the NFL. When that takes place, the timeline on that I don’t have the specifics of. I will tell you I will be in full and complete co-operation with them. I will answer everything honestly to the best of my knowledge. But what I would like to make sure what everybody understands is that there are not going to be comments during the course of this investigation until we get all of the information and we come together on that information."

Salguero: Philbin is basically saying "I'll tell the NFL what I know. You, the media, not so much." What he needs to start realizing is something Jimmy Johnson and Don Shula knew almost instinctively: When you are speaking at a press conference, you're not really talking to reporters. You are talking to your players. You are talking to your opponents. You are talking to your organization. Most importantly, you are talking to your fans. When he blows off questions, he's blowing off opportunities. And he's blowing off fans.

(On how he missed incidents of what could be deemed hazing or bullying from Richie Incognito on national television last year) - “What was that?"

(On Richie Incognito’s incidents on television last year where he hacked into Facebook accounts and talking about someone’s girlfriend) – “I never saw it."

(On if he never saw the incidents with Richie Incognito on Hard Knocks) -  “I never saw it. What was it on TV, on Hard Knocks? I never saw the show, not once. I was working at the time.”

Salguero: The coach has said numerous times he didn't think Hard Knocks helped the Dolphins or hurt the Dolphins at all last year. Except he apparently formed that opinion without even knowing what was on the show? Hurts his credibility.

(On if incidents staying inside the locker room are part of the NFL) - “Again I think each locker room has its own culture, it’s own identity. I can’t speak to other locker rooms and how they do things.”

Salguero: Excellent escape. But everyone it recognizes for what it is -- avoiding the question.

(On if he has seen rookies getting picked on in a locker room) - “I personally think laughter in a work environment is a good thing. Not at the expense of an individual, but I think laughter can be a healthy, productive thing. But not in a demeaning way at the expense of an individual.”

Salguero: Good answer.

(On what he saw Sunday night that made him say Richie Incognito needed to be suspended) - “Again, the information that I received I took under consideration and I felt this was the appropriate action. I’m not going to get into the specifics of what it was, but I had enough information I felt to make a good decision. That’s exactly what I did."

Salguero: Coach's on a roll. Two good answers in a row. Can he do three?

(On if Richie Incognito being on the team’s leadership council was a trust that was misplaced) - “The leadership council is selected by the players. I have a lot of confidence in our players. I have a lot of confidence in the locker room, the character of the men we have in the locker room. He was selected by his teammates."

Salguero: Three in a row!

(On if there is racism on his team) - “Again, that’s going to fall under the review of the NFL.”

Salguero: Again, a terrible answer. By not answering, you are basically opening the door to the possibility there is racism on your team. If your answer to this question cannot be a resounding, emphatic "Hell no" you did something wrong in the building of your team.

(On if he has addressed the team about the situation) - “We’ve addressed it in a team meeting, yes.”

Salguero: Good.

(On if he spoke with Richie Incognito after his initial conversation with Jonathan Martin) - “Again, I’m not going to get into discussions I have had. I don’t do that with any situation.”

Salguero: Crappy question. Already been asked. And coach, you would be wise to acknowledge that you spoke to Incognito because he's your player, too (for now) and he deserves fair treatment and an audience with you. You gave him that audience. It's alright to admit it. It's not a revelation of state secrets to admit to talking to a player.

(On if he thought it was a serious matter based off his initial conversation with Jonathan Martin) - “He never mentioned to me any accusation of any inappropriate behavior. (It) was never mentioned to me at any point, not in the meeting I had with him, not in the phone conversation I had with him."

Salguero: Honest. Forthright. And a terrible fact for Philbin and the Dolphins because, again, the media found out before you did, Joe.

(On if Jonathan Martin’s representation presented evidence against one player or multiple players) - “A player.”

Salguero: Honest.

(On how likely it is that Jonathan Martin or Richie Incognito play for the Dolphins again) - “Again, right now the focus is on the football team, the men in the locker room right now (and) preparing our team for Tampa Bay. There will be a time and a place for all of that stuff."

Salguero: Don't want to nitpick so this is fine.

(On if the last four days have been miserable for him) - “Absolutely not. It’s a privilege to serve as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. I feel fortunate every single day I come to work. I work with a great group of men, a great staff, support staff. Absolutely not.”

Salguero: Best answer of the entire presser. Philbin finished strong.

November 04, 2013

Ross requests review to put everyone on notice

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross over the weekend called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and asked for help in the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito work place misconduct scandal.

"Our owner Steve Ross, who had been involved throughout the entire process, contacted the commissioner, Roger Goodell, and requested the NFL become involved and conduct a review of the work place," coach Joe Philbin said.

This is important.

First it contradicts the narrative that Ross is an absentee owner. But that's inside baseball stuff that ultimately doesn't matter. No, what makes this significant is Ross wants a thorough and unbiased review that he might not otherwise get if the Dolphins did the review internally.

(Frankly, the Dolphins probably aren't as well equipped to do this review as the NFL. Philbin is a football coach not an attorney. General Manager Jeff reland is a personnel man not an attorney.)

Ross is apparently aware that everyone he deals with in Dolphins football leadership -- Philbin, Ireland, and executive vice president of football administration Dawn Aponte -- have agendas. That agenda is quite obviously keeping one's job.

And so, Ross understands if any of these folks were heading the internal review, their agendas might seep into that review. Ross instead wants a review that is free of self-defense by any of his employees. He wants the unvarnished truth of what is right or wrong within the Dolphins work place.

And the reason he wants it is key:

Jobs are indeed on the line.

Ross is prepared to use the review to make career decisions on various people within the organization if they are found wanting by the review. Ross is prepared to make changes. And that means more than just Richie Incognito or Jonathan Martin are in the crosshairs.

So this NFL review, requested at the highest levels by the Dolphins owner, has put everyone on notice.  

Source: Incognito is 'done' on the Dolphins

Richie Incognito remains suspended by the Dolphins for conduct detrimental to the team but his fate on this team long-term is already sealed, a source tells The Miami Herald.

"He's done," a ranking club source said Monday. "There are procedures in place and everyone wants to be fair. The NFL is involved. But from a club perspective he'll never play another game here."

That really comes as no surprise, given the apparently untenable nature of the scandal that is rocking the Dolphins locker room. Allegations that Incognito left threatening and even racially charged messages on teammate Jonathan Martin's voice mail -- as first reported by CBSSports.com and ESPN.com -- have been confirmed.

The club has heard the voice mail, the source confirmed.

Incognito has yet to formally defend himself from these allegations and is expected to do just that in a robust manner. The Dolphins also have requested and are awaiting a vigorous review of the entire matter from the NFL. The NFL is leading the review.

So the Dolphins will wait for Incognito's defense and the full NFL review to play out before formally cutting ties with the player. But the die is cast. The same organization that once strongly defended and embraced Incognito has internally decided to sever ties.

Once the NFL review is concluded, and assuming the league doesn't suspend Incognito the remainder of the season, the Dolphins can cut Incognito or they can simply deactivate him the remainder of the season and allow the guard's contract to expire. He is unsigned after this season.

Whatever the procedure and even if Incognito is not cut, the source tells me the plan is to not allow Incognito to return to the locker room and definitely not to wear the Miami uniform again.

Incognito voicemail and tweets to Martin

The case against Richie Incognito is strong, apparently, and it seems the Dolphins guard had little desire to hide his troubling approach to teammate Jonathan Martin.

We've known since Sunday that Martin had texts and a voice mail from Incognito that -- in the context of a harassing or menacing vibe -- seem to prove Incognito mistreated his teammate.

According to CBSSports.com, Incognito in April sent Martin a text that referred to him as a "half-n----r." According to ESPN, Incognito left a voicemail in April, the transcript of which reads as follows:

"Hey, wassup, you half-n----r piece of (expletive). I saw you on twitter, you been training ten weeks. Want to (expletive) in your (expletive) mouth. I'm going to slap your (expletive) mouth. Going to slap your real mother across the face. (laughter). You're still a rookie. I'll kill you."

Incognito obviously felt he was joking. Martin obviously disagrees.

Incognito was also not to shy about calling out his offensive line mate on twitter. The tweets, again from April.

April, by the way, was apparently quite a month in this relationship: