SBD/November 15, 2013/Franchises

Incognito Files Grievance Against Dolphins For Suspension, Requests Expedited Hearing

Incognito noted in his filing that he is seeking an expedited hearing for the case
Suspended Dolphins G Richie Incognito on Thursday "filed a non-football injury grievance against the team, seeking to collect the paychecks he stands to lose" as a result of his involvement in the alleged bullying of OT Jonathan Martin, according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. A player "suspended for detrimental conduct" under the CBA "can be docked pay for a maximum of four games, plus an additional game check." Incognito is "seeking an expedited hearing for the case, which will be heard by an independent arbitrator." The Dolphins "have not said how long his suspension will run, but a team source has said he will not play for the Dolphins again." The Dolphins under NFL rules "would be required to release or reinstate Incognito following the team’s Dec. 1 game against the Jets" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/15). In N.Y., Ben Shpigel notes, "All expedited hearings, as Incognito has requested, must be held within seven days of when the grievance was filed." League rules also state the league and the NFLPA "will engage in good-faith efforts" to schedule the grievance before the team’s next game. The Dolphins host the Chargers on Sunday, so it "seems more likely the grievance will be heard next week," before the Dolphins' Nov. 24 game against the Panthers" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/15).

PENDING RAMIFICATIONS: USA TODAY's Tom Pelissero writes, "Jobs and a lot of money are at stake for many involved" in the scandal, "from Incognito and Martin to coach Joe Philbin and his assistants, general manager Jeff Ireland and other team staffers." Future litigation "could be costly for owner Stephen Ross, who asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for help." The NFL, "under more scrutiny than ever over player safety issues and just one year removed from suspensions in the controversial" Saints bounty case, "could make an example of Incognito just as it did" to Saints coach Sean Payton, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and LB Jonathan Vilma. The resolution of the Dolphins' situation "might be more complicated than imposing a hard-line hazing ban, which could have unintended consequences." Schepisi & McLaughlin Managing Partner Silvana Raso, whose law firm handles school and workplace bullying cases, said that the Dolphins franchise "could be held accountable not only for what it knew about illegal discrimination, but what it should have known." Philbin has publicly said that the team was "unaware of the alleged abuse until Nov. 3, when Martin's representatives turned over evidence that led to Incognito's suspension that night." The Martin case "could be to hazing what the Saints scandal was to bounties." The NFL's investigation into the Dolphins at a minimum "figures to lend some teeth to team and league policies on workplace harassment" (USA TODAY, 11/15).

A CALL FOR TRANSPARENCY: In San Jose, Mark Purdy writes of Incognito's filing of a grievance claim, "Let's make certain that the NFL Network televises every moment of the hearing, with Martin and Incognito and every other relevant person testifying." Then we will "finally get a complete picture of how weird" the Dolphins' locker room culture "was -- and perhaps still is." This incident "should provide a visual textbook for how not to conduct business in major league sports" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 11/15).
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