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Report implicates Ireland in Martin saga; More reaction from Fins players, commentators

I'm on Non-Dolphins assignment for a few days, but here's an overnight Jonathan Martin saga briefing:

### Biggest development overnight was Pro Football Talk chief Mike Florio’s report implicating Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland in this mess.

Florio said one of Jonathan Martin’s agents, Kenny Zuckerman, called Ireland after Martin left the team Oct. 28 and complained about Richie Incognito’s behavior toward Martin. (Note: PFF changed its report later Thursday to say the call from Martin's agent to Ireland came after Martin left -- not before -- as it had earlier reported.)

According to Florio, Ireland responded by saying Martin should physically confront and "punch" Incognito.

The Dolphins declined to comment on the report.

### Brian Hartline said not only did Martin pass around and laugh about the leaked Incognito April voice mail (the one featuring threats and the N-word), but Hartline said: “I never thought it was a death threat. I never ever thought he was actually going to do the things he said. If you can't take validity from one part of the voice mail, how do you take validity from the whole voice mail? You can't pick and choose what parts count and which parts don't count."

### Several players declined to comment when asked if Martin would be welcomed back in the locker-room. "That's not my position to take on that," Hartline said. "I do have a position, but I don't think it's fair to share it."

### Interesting how a few players have suggested Martin would need to be forgiven, presumably for –- in their eyes –- taking this matter to team management and allowing his representation to leak it publicly.

"Stand up and be a man," Tyson Clabo said. "I don't know why [Martin] is doing this."

(Isn’t it the bully that needs to be forgiven? Not if his teammates don’t consider Incognito a bully, and none of them who have spoken publicly do.)

Tannehill, asked if he would welcome the players back, said: “It’s tough.  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.”

### Former Dolphins offensive tackle Lydon Murtha, who was released by the team in the preseason of 2012, wrote an essay for Peter King’s MMQB web site and said, among other things, that Martin “wouldn’t look anyone in the eye.” He said Incognito used the N-word with Martin in meetings and “all Martin did was laugh.”

And what about those suggesting the coaching staff knew none of this was happening? “Coaches know everything. That’s the most outlandish lie of the whole thing.”


Tannehill offered extensive responses on several questions. Among them:

### On why this realistically couldn’t have been prevented before the story mushroomed: “That’s another thing, there were no warning signs, I’ve heard all these warning sings we were supposed to see.  He was the same guy all the time.  Pretty quiet, just kind of went about his business, joked around here and there but overall a quiet guy.  It’s tough to see warning signs when a guy doesn’t change.”

### On if he was ever aware of anyone telling someone to toughen up Jonathan Martin, as has been reported elsewhere: “No.  I was never told that, never heard of that.  I just heard of that today, that that concept was being thrown out there, but I have never heard of that before.”

### On if he would have intervened if he would have found out about this situation sooner: “Of course.  That’s part of being a leader of this team.  You want to step in and help anybody who is dealing with something.  If I had any idea that this was an issue, that he was struggling, of course I would have constantly checked on him, ‘How are you doing, how are things going, just making sure you’re ok’. You can never judge another man for what they are going through, everyone deals with something different in life and just to have no idea that this is even going on is tough for me because you can’t help a situation that you didn’t know existed.   No one on this team knew it existed.  We have a bunch of good guys in this locker room and to be put in a situation where everyone’s attacking the locker room, saying it’s such a bad place, such a bad culture, no leadership to stand up and stop the situation, no one knew there was a situation to be stopped.  It’s really tough for us to sit here and hear all of that when we have each other’s backs and I wouldn’t have a problem stopping a situation if it was occurring.  Richie (Incognito) didn’t use that type of language, that was on the voice mail and in the locker room  he didn’t’ talk to other guys that way, in a derogatory way that was attacking.”

### And finally, from Tannehill: "All I know about Richie (Incognito) is that he was a great teammate to me, I saw him being a great teammate all the time.  Does he like to give guys a hard time? Yes.  Does he like to pester guys and have fun? Yes.  He brought a lot of laughter to this locker room, he brought a lot of cohesiveness to this locker room and he was the best teammate that I could ask for.”


Showtime’s usually thoughtful Inside the NFL addressed the issue Wednesday night. Here’s what they had to say:

PHIL SIMMS: The coaching aspect, there is no chance that anything is going to change but it’s going to stay the same, status quo.  Now when you talk about Jonathan Martin, I think my first thought there is it is not a problem in the NFL.  It’s not.  I will be shocked if there are more than one or two instances like that in every five years.  So, I think we are going to find out that it’s not around the league.  It’s just an isolated incident.

JAMES BROWN: I draw a very hard line.  In terms of what that (disciplinary) action would be I don’t know.  But I would seriously consider it because I think there is a line beyond which you cannot cross.  You don’t get to racially offend, hurling epithets, spewing epithets at somebody. That is way over the line.  

SIMMS: Think about it from Jonathan Martin’s side.  It has to affect him so greatly that he had to leave.  Because he knew, leaving was going to do what?  Bring it to national attention.  So it had to be that bad. 

BROWN: I find it interesting that a lot of folks will try to put a lot of credence on what the other black (foot)ball players were saying about how they would welcome Incognito back because he is a tough guy.  That bothers me to the core because that in no way gives any legitimacy to the fact that we ought to buy into that simply because a number of other black ball players said we could do that… Even though I played basketball I still understand the competitive arena and I understand what folks are talking about in terms of you’ve got to display that toughness.  If I’m playing ball with you (turns to Cris Collinsworth, who remained silent) I know I can go on and battle in any situation because you’re not going to back down. Phil, a tough quarterback, (I) would go to battle with him any day.  But there is still a line across which you won’t step.  You tell me I’m going to get into a foxhole with the guy I know who does not like me and who is using those racial epithets or talking about my folks, I’ve got a problem with that, absolutely.