A primary reason Dolphins owner Stephen Ross asked the NFL to investigate the harassment allegations leveled by Jonathan Martin against Richie Incognito -- aside from the fact he probably wouldn't know where to start his own investigation -- is he wanted accountability.
The Dolphins owner wanted to know if his coaches or their assistants or the personnel department was aware of the harassment and did nothing about it -- thus making those people complicit in the behavior.
And while the NFL investigtion will have final say on this matter, the Dolphins have done some self-scouting per se on the matter and a person familiar with the direction this is going tells me there is no hard evidence Dolphins personnel people or coaches knew Martin was under duress until after he left the team.
(And assuming that is true, which I now believe it is, the sound you are hearing is a lot of people within the organization feeling much more secure about their jobs).
Understand that we're talking about provable evidence here. We are talking phone texts or e-mails or voice mails that would prove someone was aware of Martin's problem with Incognito. There is apparently none of that.
The source would not go so far as to guarantee there was never a conversation or passing exchange that might remotely link the Dolphins to knowlege of the Incognito-Martin problem.
"I cannot guarantee that because no one knows every single word uttered in every single conversation that has ever taken place within or without the walls of the facility," the source said. "But as to hard evidence, we're comfortable. There's none."
This information, by the way, falls in line with what the Dolphins have pretty much been saying all alone. Coach Joe Philbin has said he was not aware of any harassment of Martin. Players have universally said they were not aware of any harassment. And on Monday, owner Stephen Ross said no one else in the organization knew of such behavior.
“I never heard that," Ross said. "Coach didn’t hear it, nobody heard that. I think you heard from the players, I have not heard that.”
Obviously, this has legal as well as league ramifications. Aside from pointing away from Dolphins personnel under fire, this could also relieve the Dolphins of some but not all responsibility in a workplace violence or harassment suit by Martin. Lawyers tell me Martin doesn't need to prove the Dolphins knew to bring a suit but the team's liability would be lessened.
But here's the thing that still looks bad as a result of this: Apparently nobody on the Dolphins knew anything.
A prominent member of the organization (the starting left tackle) claims he was being harassed by at least one other prominent member of the organization (the starting left guard and a member of the leadership council) and nobody seemed to notice.
Not the head coach.
Not any of his assistants.
No one in personnel.
Not the trainers or equipment managers or anyone else.
Yes, that suggests a disconnect. And that is not good.
But I'm thinking the Dolphins will happily take that because the alternative is much, much worse.