I'm not a big science fiction buff but I am aware of pop culture. You've heard of Star Wars? You've heard of the Empire Strikes Back?
The Dolphins are in full strike back mode the last few days.
On the heels of my report this morning that Dolphins people were indeed not aware of any harassment of Jonathan Martin and the team is confident no evidence of prior knowledge will come out in the NFL investigation, we can now turn our attention to two other matters that lately seemed to damage the team's brand:
The first is the idea that someone within the organization ordered a "Code Red" to "toughen up" Martin. The idea is that someone -- presumably a coach -- told Richie Incognito to make Martin tougher. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Palm Beach Post reported that story.
But ProFootballTalk.com on Thursday reported early indications are there was no such order and those reports are wrong. And today I have confirmed there was no such order given to Incognito from anyone within the Dolphins organization and the team is comfortable that will come out when the NFL investigation is completed.
(Understand that all these media reports and allegations have to stand up to scrutiny and proof. In other words, if Incognito or anyone says he was told to "toughen up" Martin but cannot show an email or text or a confession or some tangible evidence of that order, what we have is an unproven allegation. And by the way, Incognito refused to address that issue altogether in his FOX Sports interview, obviously aware he was going to face NFL investigation scrutiny and the requirement of providing actual proof).
So there was no order to "toughen up" Martin.
Something else ...
The report that Jeff Ireland told one of Martin's agents the offensive tackle should have punched Incognito when the agent complained to the general manager about the guard's treatment is not fully in context, I'm told.
The report made it seem that Ireland was suggesting Martin's response should have been to punch Inognito. That has made Ireland seem insensitive to Martin. Indeed, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith referred to Ireland during a pre-game interview with ESPN on the topic.
"The union will be looking at whether or not management in the Dolphins either encouraged or allowed a workplace to become unprofessional," Smith said. "Certainly we know the history of the GM [Ireland] in this case with other issues. Those actions were unacceptable then. If there are actions that were taken or not taken to allow this unprofessional environment to fester, if there were things done to intimidate another player, that's a thing the union will look at."
But here is the problem:
The truth, I'm told by a source, is Ireland did not suggest Martin should have punched Incognito. He instead was asking why Martin had not confronted Incognito on the matter and perhaps even punched him if the treatment was so onerous.
In other words, Ireland was asking why Martin hadn't done anything about the treatment he was alleging.
Different context to the same conversation.
The bottom line is the NFL investigation will not deal in stories citing "at least two sources" that are anonymous or dubious. It will not deal in he-said, he-said allegations. It will deal in cold, hard facts. It will deal in text messages, voice mails, emails, corroboration, provable communications. And it will get the full context of those communications.
Then, and only then, will the true or truer picture of this situation come out.