SBD/November 18, 2013/Franchises

Dolphins' Jonathan Martin Meets With NFL Investigators, But Does Not Invite NFLPA

Martin said that he plans on resuming his NFL career at some point
Dolphins OT Jonathan Martin "met for more than seven hours on Friday" with NFL-appointed attorney Ted Wells, who is investigating the team’s bullying scandal, and "then told reporters he will meet" with Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross at some point, according to Jackson & Salguero of the MIAMI HERALD. Wells' investigation is "expected to continue" this week at Dolphins HQs (MIAMI HERALD, 11/16). In N.Y., Kevin Armstrong reports Martin on Friday said that he "looked forward to resuming his career in the NFL, though he did not specify whether or not he plans on rejoining the Dolphins." Martin, reading from a prepared statement, noted that he "had cooperated with the ongoing review of the alleged harassment he had endured from teammates" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/16). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio noted the NFLPA "didn't attend Friday's meeting" between Wells and Martin. A source said that the NFLPA "assumes that the lack of an invitation arises from ongoing friction between" NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith and David Cornwell, Martin's attorney. Cornwell said that the choice "to exclude the NFLPA was made by his client." Cornwell in a text message wrote, "Jonathan and his family decided that it was in Jonathan's best interest to be represented by an independent counsel of his choice" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 11/16). Florio cited a source as saying that the NFLPA has "retained attorney Richard Smith to represent the interests" of any Dolphins players (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 11/16).

IS TONY DUNGY THE ANSWER? In Miami, Armando Salguero writes Ross should meet with former NFL coach Tony Dungy and present him "with a blank check he can fill in if he joins the Dolphins." Dungy is one of five people Ross appointed to a panel that will develop a players' code of conduct, and Ross should offer him "the franchise's reins, make him the face of the franchise publicly and its most powerful man internally." Salguero: "I'm saying make Dungy the highest-ranking executive with power to hire and fire everybody except Ross himself" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/18). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Bob Raissman wondered if Dungy and Pro Football HOFer Dan Marino, analysts on NBC and CBS respectively, "work for their respective networks or Stephen Ross?" Ross "made these questions legit by selecting Dungy and Marino to serve on a committee to review the Dolphins standards of behavior." The appointment "is more than admirable," but it comes with "a certain stench." The "smell could have been avoided if both men declined the invitation." Raissman: "How forthcoming will either man be when discussing the committee's inner workings? Or will they simply cop out, saying the committee's meetings are confidential. Whose agenda does that serve? Certainly not the viewer" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/17). Marino said of being asked by Ross to join the committee, "After the NFL investigations, the Dolphins are going to do some of their own investigations and to have some guys that played in the NFL and guys that coached in the NFL that could look at what comes of all this and see if we can help in anyway." Marino added of the Dolphins internal investigations, "It's going to be an ongoing process but this is going to be after the season" ("That Other Pregame Show," CBSSN, 11/17).

SITUATION GROWS LARGER: ESPN's Adam Schefter reported since the Martin-Richie Incognito situation was made public, the NFL "has received multiple tips from other potential instances of harassment inside the Dolphins organization." Because so much "new information about the Dolphins is floating to the league office" and into Wells' possession, the NFL "now believes this investigation will take longer than most expected and it will be 'weeks' before the public will learn the results." ESPN's Chris Mortensen added of Incognito's grievance hearing this week, "The grievance is simple. Incognito says the suspension was ill-founded and it should be voided or reduced and lost paychecks restored. Consequently, there will be parallel events on the Incognito-Martin drama. The expedited grievance, in which the arbitrator will want access to the material Martin turned over to the independent investigatior this past Friday" ("Sunday NFL Countdown," ESPN, 11/17).

CRISIS MANAGEMENT: ESPN's Bob Holtzman reported the Dolphins "continue to insist here that they're not in crisis mode, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise." Coach Joe Philbin "met with the players on the leadership council this week" and CEO Tom Garfinkel attended a practice, the "first time either of those things had happened this year" ("Sunday NFL Countdown," ESPN, 11/17). In San Diego, Nick Canepa wrote Ross is "making an embarrassing situation even more embarrassing, a distraction even more distracting." Canepa: "What a waste of time." It is "unnecessary," and it is "not going to do any good." Canepa wrote, "Ross is exacerbating this thing that, as I said a week ago, is a non-story blown into a dirigible" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 11/17). SPORTS ON EARTH's Selena Roberts wrote the league strategy "in a crisis always has been to make a problem go away by putting committees around it." This time "is no different." Roberts: "Let's hope the NFL's bullying investigation is more transparent than past self-inspections." The "best message that can be sent to bullies is that a victim can return to the playground." If Goodell can "find a landing place for a perpetrator of unspeakable acts ... can't the commissioner find a locker room to suit a vulnerable player who was subjected to unspeakable texts while simply doing his job?" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 11/15).
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