After initial read, Wells report looks worse

Investigation brings Dolphins to all-time low

The NFL released the independent investigation Feb. 14 into the Miami Dolphins workplace harassment claims, which were made by offensive lineman Jonathan Martin.

Now that the initial blast of reaction is past, and the emotion of the moment has settled, everyone can discuss Ted Wells' investigation into the Dolphins with more clarity and better perspective.

And you know what?

On second glance, it's even worse. It's 144 graphic pages of how far a once-proud franchise has fallen.

It describes scenes of harassment, racism, homophobia and general workplace disrespect that stretch beyond the expected Jonathan Martin saga and far beyond any rowdy locker-room norm.


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It wasn't complete. The Japanese-born "Assistant Trainer," for instance, confronted Richie Incognito over the player's racist harassment. Incognito apologized profusely, said it was in jest.

That doesn't change the ugly undercurrent of the report, which is that Dolphin owner Steve Ross still doesn't get it. He still doesn't have a clue on how to run a team, much less a winning team.

From Day One in the Jonathan Martin saga, Ross has backed coach Joe Philbin for his handling of it. Wells, too, lauds Philbin in one page for "promoting integrity and accountability throughout the Dolphins organization — a point echoed by many players."

But the 143 other pages tell in detailed form why Philbin did an awful job of a coach's prime jobs even before winning: Hiring a staff, putting good veterans in leadership roles, having relationships with players and staff to promote communication and generally leading the creation of a workplace conducive to winning.

Phibin may have promoted integrity and accountability. No one should doubt he desires those attributes. He talks of them all the time to the media. But talking and doing are separate ideals that Wells, the lawyer, didn't account for and Ross, the owner, doesn't understand.

What played out in this scandal was an ignorance that comes when an inexperienced person takes on a demanding job and doesn't even know what he doesn't know.

This is the worst kind of boss, the one that thinks he's the smartest guy in the class and doesn't realize that's his first failing. Cam Cameron was that way with the Dolphins. That contributed mightily to his lone, 1-15 season as a head coach.

Philbin is a first-time head coach. That's not just in the NFL. It's anywhere. College. High school. Pop Warner. He hasn't been sure how to project himself to the media. Do you think he knew exactly how to hire a staff or police his locker room?

Ross lauded Philbin's "great organizational skills," in hiring him. But that's like praising cleanliness or trustworthiness. Those should be expected parts of anyone who is the face of a sports franchise.

Martin's troubles weren't an isolated problem inside Philbin's team. There was gay harassment of a player. There was racism against a Japanese-born employee. There was offensive-line coach Jim Turner chiming in.

What's more, the chorus of players inside the Dolphins all backed Richie Incognito's brand of locker-room fun. Why? Because many did it, from Mike Pouncey to John Jerry to even Turner.

This is why Ross should have swept the debts clean. The culture is infected. The quickest way to change that is by bringing in a new voice at the top. He has refused to go that route.

It's his team, his decision. But the issue doesn't end just because the Wells report closes. Turner, like Richie Incognito, probably will be the deserving scapegoat in this for actions that included giving a male-blow-up doll to a player subjected to gay taunts.

The 2014 season will begin under the shadow of this scandal. The Dolphins probably will open with five new offensive linemen in good part from this. Incognito and Martin are obvious casualties.

Center Mike Pouncey, the team's best lineman, and guard John Jerry can expect a suspension simply for their gay taunts detailed in the Wells Report. Throw in Pouncey's unknown issue in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial and, well, the questions pile up.

In investment terms, the Dolphins lost a second-round tackle, a Pro Bowl-caliber guard and probably for some period a first-round center and third-round guard. All because a team wasn't constructed or led properly.

It's been a few days since the Wells Report was released. But the perspective hasn't changed even as you look ahead. Where is the leadership for a pained Dolphins fan to trust after this toxic mess?

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