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Dolphins coach Joe Philbin yesterday after practice "gave a detailed timeline of the events" that led to the inquiry of bullying between G Richie Incognito and OT Jonathan Martin at a press briefing that was "attended by about 100 local, national and international reporters," according to a front-page piece by Beasley & Salguero of the MIAMI HERALD. Philbin said that he was "first made aware of a situation after Martin left the team following a prank gone wrong on Oct. 28." He added that he was "in touch with both Martin and his parents throughout the following week." But Philbin said, "In all my discussions with Jonathan and his family, at no time were there any accusations or allegations of misconduct by any members of this team or this organization." Beasley & Salguero report Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross over the weekend called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and "asked for help in the form of an independent inquiry." Ross is prepared to "use the review to make career decisions on various people within the organization if the review finds fault with their actions." Philbin said, "If the review shows that this is not a safe atmosphere, I will take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that it is. I have that obligation to the players that I coach on a daily basis, and I will do that" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/5). ESPN.com's James Walker noted Philbin "took the blame for the environment that was created in his locker room." The usually "docile Philbin became somewhat emotional Monday while addressing the media" (ESPN.com, 11/4).
CROSSING THE LINE: In Miami, Adam Beasley cited a source as saying that young Dolphins players "are under pressure to dig deep into their pockets to pay for veterans’ social outings, a practice that is straining their finances and locker room chemistry." The source characterized Dolphins veterans "using younger players as ATMs to finance their nightlife whims." The source added that these older players "have been caught up in the fast-paced Miami lifestyle without the burden of having to pay for it." Multiple sources "agree that it’s happening in Miami -- but it’s not just a Dolphins issue: It happens league-wide, and organizations and the players’ union know all about it." A source said that they "simply don’t care" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/5). FoxSports.com's Mike Garafolo noted the Dolphins coaching staff may not have known that Incognito was “leaving these types of voicemails,” but a bullying atmosphere or hazing has been “a part of the Dolphins atmosphere,” and it was “encouraged” (“Fox Football Daily,” FS1, 11/4). In S.F. Ann Killion writes the Martin-Incognito situation "should not be taken as clear evidence of an NFL pattern." Bullying in any form "is questionable, but this went far beyond the norm." The fact that this went so far is "a sign of a leadership void, both at the very top and within the locker room" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/5).
NATIONAL EMBARRASSMENT: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde wrote the Dolphins are "a mess from top to bottom right now." How the coaching staff and front office "handled this has become another public embarrassment." Hyde: "Shouldn’t Joe Philbin have had a better handle on these personalities and details that are coming out? Did [GM] Jeff Ireland know of some of the emotional issues with Martin when drafting him? And did the handling of this case, and the release drawn up by vice president of football operations Dawn Aponte, cause Martin’s camp increase the emotions more?" It is "not just Incognito's job on the line here." A lot of people "are being looked at as this plays out" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 11/4). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said, "A lack of leadership is the starting point on this, that they didn’t do anything about this and now they're chasing it because it's a media outrage" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 11/4).
ORGANIZATIONAL PROBLEMS: In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan writes for "every hideous thing we heard Monday, for every detail about Richie Incognito’s unforgivable bullying of teammate Jonathan Martin, for every ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I can’t comment’ floating out of South Beach, the Dolphins organization spun deeper and deeper into a spiral of shame." Incognito was suspended by the Dolphins late Sunday for his conduct. Sullivan: "But you have to wonder what took so long." That Incognito’s treatment of Martin "would reach such a desperate level that Martin chose to leave the team reeks of organizational dysfunction" (Bergen RECORD, 11/5). Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said this was an "organizational problem" that went "way beyond just the players." Paige: "The culture with the Dolphins apparently has deteriorated badly over the last couple of years" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 11/4). NFL Network's Brian Billick said there is "no way the organization" was not aware of the fact "antagonism between these two players was going on" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 11/4). In Miami, Armando Salguero wrote Incognito's actions, "whatever they were, do not rise anywhere near the level" of former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez' alleged crimes. But the Dolphins' "out-of-touch state is every bit as complete as New England's was" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 11/4).
MISPLACED PRIORITIES? ESPN's Bomani Jones said the Dolphins handled the Martin-Incognito situation "bad from jump street" and they seem to have an issue "about what is and is not appropriate." Jones: "This is the same team where the general manager asked a prospective draftee if his mother was a prostitute" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 11/4). Jones added, "This isn't the most professional organization in the world." He noted the team is Ireland's "shop and this is what's going on." Jones: "If you're Jeff Ireland, are you ready to answer for this?" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 11/4). USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell writes it is "fair to wonder" whether Ireland, who was at the center of controversy for below-the-belt questions during his predraft grilling of WR Dez Bryant, "was as thorough in vetting Incognito." Ireland said he "absolutely scrutinized Richie's character." But Bell writes, "Apparently something was missed" (USA TODAY, 11/5). ESPN's Keyshawn Johnson said Ireland "can't just escape" responsibility for the situation because "he had to make the decision" to sign Incognito ("Monday Night Countdown," ESPN, 11/4). ESPN's Chris Mortensen said of Philbin and Ireland, “When you are in a leadership position, you are going to come under scrutiny for this” ("NFL Live," ESPN, 11/4). Meanwhile, in Boston, Gerry Callahan writes the Dolphins "made a fatal mistake with Incognito." They "made him a leader." Philbin either "knew what Incognito was doing or he should have known." He allowed "one very bad apple to spoil the locker room, and now the team pays the price" (BOSTON HERALD, 11/5).
SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO? ESPN.com's Walker noted how Philbin "manages the team through this crisis will go a long way toward determining if he is the right or wrong coach for Miami." Philbin took on the "brunt of the responsibility Monday, saying it's up to the head coach to create and facilitate the right locker-room culture." Coaching in the NFL is "not always about X's and O's." Often, it is about "crisis management and putting out fires." What is going on in Miami "happens to be an inferno." Philbin is "at a crossroads." Either he is "the right coach for the Dolphins, somebody who will solve this issue immediately within his locker room and won’t allow this to happen again." Or he is "the wrong coach, somebody who tried to handle a very serious situation way too late" (ESPN.com, 11/4). In Miami, Greg Cote writes Philbin "comes off as the non-leader who either did nothing about what was going on or was oblivious to it, neither option speaking well of him." If his team "does not make the playoffs to save him, I think that and this bullying scandal together will see Philbin fired." The absence of "leadership and discipline that allowed this to foment has created a national embarrassment for the franchise, a stain on the brand." This has "turned the Dolphins into a punchline or a case worthy of sociological examination" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/5). In West Palm Beach, Dave George writes Philbin appears to be "floundering to figure out how two of his players could grow so sick of each other that an NFL investigation is needed." Philbin likely will not "lose his job over this mess, providing, of course, he starts winning games." George: "If he doesn't, that's when the inability of the second-year coach and his assistants to read signals, or even read minds, will shoot conveniently to the top of any list of potential firing offenses" (PALM BEACH POST, 11/5).
VIBE OF THE LOCKER ROOM: In Ft. Lauderdale, Chris Perkins notes Dolphins players were "almost unanimous in their support of Incognito." Not a single player, "publicly or privately, had a bad thing to say about Incognito, who was voted to the team's six-member leadership council, the group entrusted to solve problems" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/5). The SUN-SENTINEL's Hyde noted a walk through the Dolphins' locker room "had all six players asked deliver only good thoughts about Incognito." Dolphins WR Mike Wallace said, "He's a great teammate" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/5). FOXSPORTSFLORIDA.com's Charlie McCarthy reported several Dolphins players insisted they had a "'unified' locker room in which everything was 'good.'" TE Dion Sims said, "The chemistry is fine, from how I see it. Everybody gets along well, and I think everything is good." DE Cameron Wake: "I've been here for quite a while, and the locker room's been fine as far as I'm concerned. Then again, you're talking about me, I can't speak for anybody else." Wallace said, "I feel like it was always a good vibe with the team. You never know what somebody's going through" (FOXSPORTSFLORIDA.com, 11/4). DE Derrick Shelby said that Incognito "is not a racist." Shelby: "Richie's definitely not that type of guy. If you had to pick a guy to get your back, I'd pick Richie. Richie would be the first for a lot of guys." In West Palm Beach, Andrew Abramson reports while players "backed Incognito ... they were more lukewarm regarding Martin." LB Dannell Ellerbe indicated that if Martin "had an issue with Incognito or any other teammate, he should have gone to Ellerbe or another member" of the leadership council. However, Incognito "was a member of the council" (PALM BEACH POST, 11/5).
Since Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan bought the team in '10, season tickets "have increased to 9,362 from 6,044, a gain of 55%," according to Erik Spanberg of the CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL. Bobcats President Fred Whitfield and Exec VP and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Pete Guelli said that fans should "expect a number of Hornets-themed events in the year ahead as the transition takes place" to the new name. Fans can "expect former players to make appearances, along with splashy unveilings of the team colors, logos and other changes." Jordan and the team will spend $4M updating Time Warner Cable Arena, the floor and website, "among other things affected" by the name change. Guelli said that with the season-ticket gains and sponsorship revenue up at least 10%, the Bobcats are "poised to take advantage of anticipated improvements on the court" (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/1 issue).
CAT'S IN THE CRADLE: In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell wrote the "biggest thing" Jordan has learned as owner is to "admit and rectify mistakes quickly." An example was him "replacing Mike Dunlap one season into his tenure as coach." Jordan said, "I actually liked Mike, I absolutely did. I said it last year when we first hired him that I could have played for him. But that doesn't translate to today's kids." New coach Steve Clifford is the "third Bobcats coach in as many seasons, but Jordan thinks the team is on the rise" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/2).
BRAND BUILDER: ESPN.com's Darren Rovell noted when the Jordan brand signed Bobcats C Cody Zeller last week, it "marked the fourth Bobcats player to be signed to the brand, a disproportionately high number considering Jordan itself has only 20 active NBA players on its roster." But the league has "put in place provisions to make sure proper league procedures are followed." When Jordan became the owner, walls were "put up to make sure Nike was making its decisions for the Jordan brand on its own, a departure from its previous statements that suggested Jordan handpicked his endorsers." Zeller joins F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, G Jeffery Taylor and C Bismack Biyombo as "other Jordan endorsers who play for the Bobcats." There are "more players on Jordan's team getting paid to wear Jordan gear than on any other team in the league" (ESPN.com, 11/4).
A report the city of Anaheim commissioned to find out the economic effect the Angels have on the area is "so replete with unsubstantiated assumptions that it can't be used as a reliable indicator of the team's financial impact on the city," according to interviews and public records cited by Martin Wisckol of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. Texas-based Conventions, Sports & Leisure's 12-page report "makes generalized assumptions on consumer behaviors based on studies in other major league cities and uses formulas disputed by other economists." The report also "does not include millions in team-related city costs, some of which most City Council members were unfamiliar with until being informed." The Angels' economic impact on Anaheim is "important because the city is renegotiating the Angels' lease" at Angel Stadium, which runs through '29, at the request of the team. Although the team "has not publicly threatened to exercise its opt-out provision, at least three of the five City Council members have said they are concerned that the Angels might find more favorable circumstances and a new stadium elsewhere" in the greater L.A. area. Anaheim council member Lucille Kring said the economic impact is "probably the No. 1 factor" in wanting to keep the team. The report "credits the team" with generating $204M in new spending in the city and $4.7M in annual revenue for the city treasury. When using the consultant's "assumptions, net city revenue drops" to about $2.3M when the expenses are accounted for. But some economists are "skeptical of the consultant's numbers, taking issue with the report's methodology and data in determining the new spending and annual revenue figures." The report states that the biggest source of Angels-related funding to city coffers -- 58% -- "comes from hotel taxes." This is "one of numerous disputed estimates, with critics raising several challenges" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 11/2).
The Red Sox took out a full-page ad in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch "thanking the city for a good contest" in this year's World Series, according to Allison Sylte of KSDK.com. The ad begins with, "From one great baseball town to another." It is signed at the bottom by Owner John Henry, Chair Tom Werner and President & CEO Larry Lucchino (KSDK.com, 11/5). ESPN's Trey Wingo wrote, "Well done Boston." SI.com's Richard Deitsch: "Classy move from Red Sox management." But ESPN's Darren Rovell asked, "Good sportsmanship or too much?" (TWITTER.com, 11/5). Meanwhile, the Red Sox took out ads in the Boston Globe Sunday and Boston Herald yesterday to thank their fans following the team's World Series win (THE DAILY).
PAPI MAKES THE ROUNDS: Red Sox DH David Ortiz is making the media rounds after winning his third World Series with the Red Sox in the past 10 years. He appeared on "Live with Kelly & Michael" this morning carrying the World Series trophy on-stage and discussed winning the title a year after finishing in last place. He said one key reason was "having a new manager," as John Farrell replaced Bobby Valentine during the offseason. Ortiz: "Last year, we had a lot of issues with players going back and forth in various situations with the manager. This year it was different. ... This year all we had to focus on was just play. The manager took all the bullets for us" ("Live with Kelly & Michael," 11/5). Ortiz was on CBS' "The Late Show" last night, and host David Letterman said, "You have become sort of the standard-bearer for, 'By God, this is our city.'" Ortiz said it was a "tough time" when he addressed the Fenway Park crowd for the first home game following the Boston Marathon bombings. He said, "Living in Boston all these years and something that tragic happens when people are just trying to raise money, collect funds, to help people who really need it. ... Who expects something like that?" Letterman later asked about Red Sox players growing out their beards, saying, "I bet it was fun the first 10 days." Ortiz, who shaved his beard off yesterday as part of a promo with Gillette, said, "It starts itching after awhile" ("The Late Show," CBS, 11/4). Ortiz and Red Sox RF Shane Victorino also appeared on NBC's "Today" yesterday. Ortiz said he would grow his beard again for next season, while Victorino said he was going to start growing his beard the "whole off-season, because I don't know what my beard could be called honestly" ("Today," NBC, 11/4).
LIGHTNING DOESN'T STRIKE TWICE: ESPN.com's Joe McDonald notes Red Sox GM Ben Cherington "has been with the organization for 16 years and remembers what former GM Theo Epstein had to deal with after the team won the World Series" in '04 and '07. A lot of what Epstein "preached during those offseasons is still fresh in Cherington's mind." Cherington said, "If you just try to replicate exactly what you had this year, it's probably not going to work the same." Manager John Farrell following the team's victory parade on Saturday said that "as soon as he stepped off his duck boat, he and the rest of the team already knew it would probably be the last time this group would be together." This offseason "will take the Red Sox in a different direction" (ESPN.com, 11/4).
In Detroit, Dave Birkett asked, "What does the future hold for a Lions franchise now in its 50th season of ownership under William Clay Ford?" The team will see "probably at least another half century or so of family control." Lions Senior Advisor Tom Lesnau said, "The family’s totally behind it. It would be shocking to think that the family would ever consider getting rid of it. I think it’s as much of a fixture as almost another member of the family." Birkett noted the Lions "never have revealed a succession plan for who will take over once Ford cedes control, but he and his wife, Martha, have four children and their son," Vice Chair Bill Ford Jr., has held his role since '95. William Clay Ford's daughters Martha, Sheila and Elizabeth "are not involved in day-to-day operations" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 11/3).
STEVIE FRANCHISE: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reports SAC Capital Advisors yesterday "agreed to plead guilty to insider trading violations and to pay a record" $1.2B penalty. SAC Founder and Mets investor Steven Cohen "has not been personally charged by the government, but he has been tainted by the conduct of his company." Cohen paid $20M in '12 for one of 12 minority partnerships in the Mets, and Sandomir wonders if Mets co-Owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz should "push Cohen to sell his sliver" of the team. A majority owner is "of more concern to baseball than a minority partner, like Cohen, who has little power over a team’s direction" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/5).
UNHAPPY FEET: In N.Y., Frank Isola cites a source as saying that Knicks Owner James Dolan has "become such a hands-on owner -- figuratively speaking -- that he doesn’t want" the Knicks City Dancers dancing. Isola: "Crazy, right?" The same person who "wanted creative input on the dancers’ outfits (and he’s good at it) apparently ordered that the girls’ roles be reduced to mostly throwing T-shirts into the crowd" during the T'Wolves-Knicks game on Sunday. The dancers "performed maybe one routine" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/5).