Dolphins saga remains a sordid mess

Ted Wells investigation outlines abuses outside of Martin

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

He wrote the report unsure of some pieces, stitching together more than 144 pages of an National Football League-inspired report into Miami Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin's meltdown with phrases like, "We struggled with how to evaluate," and "puzzling," and "difficult to explain."

Ultimately, investigator Ted Wells understood enough to rightfully conclude several Dolphins offensive linemen "engaged in a pattern of harassment" against Martin and others that led to Martin's emotional breakdown last year.

But what's makes this ugliest chapter in Dolphins history even uglier than expected are the parts Wells had no problems painting. A Dolphins player referred to as "Player A" subjected to constant gay jokes. An employee referred to as assistant trainer, who was Japanese-born, subject to racist taunts.

It was through the prism of their stories, and others, that the problem inside the Dolphins can be seen as something much more than Martin's problem. It was the developed culture's problem.


PHOTOS: 2013 SunFest Music Festival

It is coach Joe Philbin's problem.

It is owner Steve Ross's problem.

Certainly it isn't closing with this report, either, if just for follow-up issues from center Mike Pouncey and guard John Jerry being singled out in the report for homophobic behavior.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell won't let that pass without some penalty, probably a suspension for at least a game. Nor should he in the league that just welcomed openly gay Missouri player Michael Sam.

Where it turns ugly for the Dolphins, though, is that people in positions of responsibility knew what was going on. Knew? Offensive line coach Jim Turner contributed to it.

He gave "Player A" a male blow-up doll. He knew linemen were belittling teammate Nate Garner – "and was even in on it," Incognito said in a text.

Turner knew of Martin's emotional issues, including suggestions of suicide. But he sent several texts in the days after Martin left the team demanding he come public to save Incognito's reputation.

"DO THE RIGHT THING. NOW," one text read.

This leads to the next question: Where was Turner's boss? Where was Philbin, the man who assembled this staff, who is responsible for this locker room, who as this story broke in November said he was intent on having a "safe atmosphere?"

"Coach Philbin and the Front Office Did Not Know About the Harassment," a segment of the report headlines.

This is meant as a section of praise that the man in charge didn't know about the harrassment of Martin, the assistant trainer or "Player A".

"After interviewing Coach Philbin at length, we were impressed with his commitment to promoting integrity and accountability throughout the Dolphins organization—a point echoed by many players,'' he said.

This doesn't add up. A head coach's first job is creating a staff of like-minded people. He also is responsible for creating a culture of respect inside the team and knowing where red-button problems are among his employees.

There are three awful instances of problems that he didn't know about. And that's not a problem? What's the bigger issue here – that Philbin didn't know, which Wells lauds him for, or why he didn't know?

Who's to blame for this?

Who isn't?

fl-dave-hyde-wells-0215-20140214
 

Blogs