SBD/November 19, 2013/Franchises

NFL Investigator Ted Wells Begins Interviewing Dolphins Players, Administrators

Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman expects to meet with Wells today
NFL special investigator Ted Wells "met with select Dolphins players Monday as he began his on-the-ground investigation of the team's workplace conduct scandal, indicating his inquiry might be more targeted than wide-reaching," according to Adam Beasley of the MIAMI HERALD. Some thought that "all Dolphins players might be subject to an interview" with Wells. But sources yesterday said that that "was not the case." Instead, it is believed that Wells "wanted to use his short time in Miami to deal directly with the allegations of abuse against Jonathan Martin." Wells met "primarily with players Monday, and had hoped to be finished with them by day's end." Dolphins coach Joe Philbin and several team administrators also "carved out time" with Wells. Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said that he "has a meeting with Wells" scheduled for today. By front-loading player interviews, Wells may be "trying to avoid interfering with the team’s preparation" for Sunday's home game against the Panthers. Wells is expected to "spend three days" at Dolphins HQs (MIAMI HERALD, 11/19). In Ft. Lauderdale, Chris Perkins notes Sherman was hopeful that the interviews "would be taken care of in one day" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/19). In West Palm Beach, Andrew Abramson cites legal experts as saying that Dolphins players "are under no legal obligation to talk." Indiana Univ. Robert H. McKinney School of Law Dean Emeritus Gary Roberts said Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross "can tell them to cooperate, but if there's nothing in their player contract that requires it, he really doesn't have much leverage over them other than in this business players can be cut under the pretext that they're not playing well enough." South Florida-based player agent David Canter said that he would "recommend to any of his players that they be accompanied by an agent or attorney" (PALM BEACH POST, 11/19).

HOLD, PLEASE: ESPN.com's Chris Mortensen cited sources as saying that the Dolphins have "requested a delay for suspended guard Richie Incognito's non-football injury grievance against the team while the franchise cooperates with an independent investigation of the alleged violations that led to his suspension." Incognito was "granted an expedited hearing before a neutral arbitrator when he filed a non-football injury grievance late last week." The grievance hearing "is not part of the independent investigation headed by Wells" (ESPN.com, 11/18).

EDUCATION THE ANSWER? In Boston, Gary Washburn noted the Martin-Incognito situation has "exposed a locker room culture that has existed for years, and has left coaches shaking their heads." Middle-aged coaches have "tended to take a hands-off approach to locker-room politics out of respect for the players' territory." But because a player is tenured in the NFL, NBA or MLB "doesn't necessarily make him capable of being a role model." What pro sports teams need is "more education on these topics, including sensitive ones of a racial and sexual nature." Teams should "bring in retired players or those who have experienced racism, sexism, or extreme hazing to speak to the athletes." Pro sports franchises "have enough resources to provide educational courses on some of these uncomfortable subjects" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/18).
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