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It's NFL office's turn to speak on harassment scandal

Welcome to Monday. Today the clock starts on the NFL's reaction to the Dolphins harassment scandal report investigator Ted Wells authored and delivered to the league Friday.

With a weekend to read and digest the report and the NFL Combine starting later this week, the timing suggests NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will handle whatever business needs to be handled in the coming days, and perhaps as early as today.

What business?

The future of guard Richie Incognito going forward. The future of guard John Jerry going forward. The future of center Mike Pouncey going forward. The future of offensive line coach Jim Turner going forward. The future of head athletic trainer Kevin O'Neill going forward.

The future of head coach Joe Philbin going forward.

The Ted Wells report made all of the people mentioned above look bad in one way or another. And while not all will disciplined either by the NFL or the Dolphins, all have been dealt a blow to their reputations.

That's painful in of itself. But that blow having been already delivered, we should all care about the next shoe to drop.

So let's consider the possibilities:

Turner: It is a stain on the Dolphins organization that this man was not fired within hours of the report being published. The report paints Turner as having known about some improper behavior relative to the harassment of Jonathan Martin and Player A -- known to everyone now as Andrew McDonald. The report paints Turner as having joined the mocking of McDonald over the alleged but untrue rumor that he was homosexual. And, in a rare triple crown, the report paints Turner as something of a liar when faced with questions during the investigation and even from his own head coach.

The fact Turner is still with the team is, frankly, offensive and paints owner Stephen Ross and Philbin as men of many words but little resolve or action in doing what they said they'd do -- address the ills within the Dolphins locker room culture and solve the issues.

The only way Ross and Philbin get a pass on delaying here is because they may be under orders from Goodell to wait on NFL sanctions before passing their own clubcentric judgment.

No, the NFL isn't going to fire Turner. But a suspension is possible. A year-long one is my guess.

Incognito: He is at the center of the whole affair and while he still contends his were no more than playful barbs and taunts, the report slices and dices him up pretty good. And here is his problem, he could get off for the rude and harassing treatment of his teammate with a suspension applying the time already served on suspension in 2013.

But Incognito's new problem is the other stuff he did that came to light in the Wells report. His harassment of assistant athletic trainer Naohisa Inoue was highlighted as particularly troubling because Wells saw that Incognito held a more powerful position within the organization than Inoue -- a status he didn't hold over other players. This made the abuse of Inoue egregious.

From the report:

"Martin said that Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey directed racial slurs at the Assistant Trainer, calling him a "Jap," a "Chinaman" and a "chink"; referred to him as a "dirty communist" or a "North Korean"; made demands such as "give me some water you fucking chink"; spoke to him in a phony, mocking Asian accent, including asking for "rubby rubby sucky sucky"; and called his mother a "rub and tug masseuse." Martin also informed us that Incognito and Jerry taunted the Assistant Trainer by saying that they had had sex with his girlfriend.

"On December 7, 2012 (the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor), Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey donned traditional Japanese headbands that featured a rising sun emblem and jokingly threatened to harm the Assistant Trainer physically in retaliation for the Pearl Harbor attack. Martin reported that the Assistant Trainer confided to him that he was upset about the Pearl Harbor prank, finding it derogatory and demeaning.

"Jerry and Pouncey each admitted that they repeatedly used racial language toward the Assistant Trainer -- including calling him a "Jap" and a "Chinaman" -- and acknowledged their Pearl Harbor Day stunt. Incognito likewise did not dispute that he and others directed these kinds of words at the Assistant Trainer, but said that this language was all in good humor and that the Assistant Trainer recognized that the words were not meant seriously, even responding with his own jokes. Moreover, Incognito stated that he did not discern a power or status differential between himself and the Assistant Trainer because he viewed everyone as equal, regardless of his position in the Dolphins organization. Incognito also claimed that he had a good friendship with the Assistant Trainer that included socializing outside of work. He pointed out that the headbands were gifts from the Assistant Trainer.

"Martin told us that until he saw how the Assistant Trainer was treated he had never in his life witnessed flagrant racial harassment. Martin felt that the Assistant Trainer awkwardly laughed along with some of the racist comments, even though he was in fact offended. Another player reported that for a one-month period when he was receiving treatment in the training room, he heard Incognito making derogatory comments, including racial remarks, to the Assistant Trainer every day. Like Martin, this player also felt that the Assistant Trainer’s awkward laughter in response to Incognito’s verbal abuse belied his unease. This player also was offended to have to witness the abuse."

Bad deal for Incognito because now his problem extends to the harassment of players and someone viewed as an underling within the organizational structure. And Incognito's problem increases.

Incognito, you see, kept a log book of fines within the team's Kangaroo Court. Those fines outlined some of his harassment of not only Martin, but possibly Nate Garner as well.

The problem is Incognito seemed to recognize this was something of a smoking gun so he asked Pouncey and Nate Garner to destroy the book. Neither did. The fact Incognito wanted to cover his tracks? That's going to be another problem for him beyond just the interaction with Martin. So while Incognito might have gotten off for time served based on his harassment of Martin, the other stuff might pile more punishment on his plate.

O'Neill: He's worked for the team for 18 years and is generally respected inside and outside the organization. But the Wells report states O'Neill on mulitiple ocassions heard Jerry, Pouncey and Incognito make jokes and crude comments about Martin's sister. And, the bad part, he sometimes laughed at them. The report also states O'Neill heard the comments directed as Inoue and similarly laughed. The report states O"Neill was aware of what was going on and rather than tell his superior, he advised Martin to fight back. (Me? I'd advise Martin to fight back and tell the head coach). The report states O'Neill was not cooperative in his interview with Wells and actually left the interview before it concluded. Fireable offenses? Don't think so. Sanctionable offenses? Probably.

Pouncey: The Dolphins at this moment do not intend to trade him. So let's get that rumor cleared up right now. He is a good player at a key position. He isn't on the market today. But is he in trouble? Heck yes. He was Incognito's running mate, his wingman so to speak. His texts about his attitude toward Martin are eye-opening to anyone who believes Martin might be able to return to the Dolphins locker room. He similarly engaged in mocking the assistant trainer. And in several parts, Wells writes, he either gives no credit to what Pouncey was telling or questions Pouncey's truthfulness. That's a problem for Pouncey. He could easily be looking at an NFL suspension of some length. Remember a few months ago when Pouncey said this whole thing was a media fabrication?

Jerry: He's a free agent. And he's not that good. And now he's got this NFL report portraying him as the third of the Three Amigos that harassed Martin and others. Frankly, I didn't know John Jerry could put two consecutive sentences together, much less be part of this deal. But he is. And while he doesn't seem to, ahem, stretch the truth as much as Pouncey, Wells dings him for that a couple of times also.

Philbin: He's not going to get fired. It doesn't look like he's going to be sanctioned by the NFL because Wells sees the head coach's total plea of cluelessness on this scandal as plausible and positive. I've spoken to no one else in the NFL outside the Dolphins who shares that view. Philbin's reputation has suffered. It is not great league-wide outside of his small circle of friends. That might be the extent of his sanctions. 

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