Columnist: Incognito-Martin Saga Continues Dolphins' Fall From Relevance, Credibility
The Dolphins' "once-proud franchise of the Perfect Season and Don Shula and Dan Marino continues to stumble and skew so much closer to embarrassment than excellence," according to Greg Cote of the MIAMI HERALD. The club on the field continues "what seems a losing battle to avoid being the worst thing you can be in the sports and entertainment business: Irrelevant." Dolphins fans off the field have "too often seen the sad opposite of irrelevance." They have "seen attention of the notorious type, a club making itself a punch line and damaging its brand with a tarnish not quickly or easily wiped clean." Now the Dolphins are the "epicenter of the bigger-than-sports story" about the relationship between OT Jonathan Martin and G Richie Incognito. Cote: "Bullygate adds in a major way to a series of Dolphins missteps and embarrassments in recent years that together paint the picture of a franchise that is somewhere between poorly run and dysfunctional." The Dolphins "never used to be the club that only looked good when compared with the worst," as it was the "team that set the standard." Now it "seems like one thing after another with the Dolphins, always too much going wrong" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/7). NBCSN's Ross Tucker said the Dolphins are the most dysfunctional NFL franchise due to the "money they’ve spent, they can’t get any fans to games, the way they’ve lost a lot of their games, and then you add the Incognito thing” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 11/6).
IT'S COMPLICATED: In N.Y., Gary Myers writes either the Dolphins are "in complete denial/coverup mode or they are completely clueless." If people were "looking for someone to actually take the leadership reins, coach Joe Philbin, other than saying his locker room was one big happy family, had nothing to say" during a press conference yesterday (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/7). But Dolphins DE Cameron Wake defended the perception that there is no leadership on the team. Wake: "What's been bothering me more than anything is the things you hear from outside this locker room, things that undermine the integrity of the leadership, the type of players, the class of guys we have here, the class of this organization. I've been here five years and coach Philbin has done nothing but turn this organization in a positive direction, from top to bottom. To hear some things about what's not going on here, and what is going on here. It is unfortunate. It's wrong. It's ridiculous. And it's hard to hear." Dolphins WR Brian Hartline added. "To challenge the leaders, [the] character of this locker room is wrong. ... We do have leaders. We do have guys that do stay focused" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/7).
ANOTHER POSSIBLE ANGLE: ESPN.com's Mike Rodak notes Bills C Eric Wood suggested that Martin's agent "may be the source of details that emerged about Incognito's involvement." Wood said, "Sometimes, from what it appears, the agents got involved. Jonathan was with his family for a few days. Nothing came out, and then all of the sudden the agent released stuff about Richie. I don't know if he's trying to defend his client and maybe throw someone under the bus at the expense of it, but I don't know. I think there's a lot more to the story than meets the eye" (ESPN.com, 11/7). In Boston, Ben Volin writes the Martin-Incognito story is "being presented in black and white terms ... but I wonder whether the key color in this is green." The Dolphins reportedly put Martin "on the 'non-football illness' list so they could free up his roster spot." When a player is "placed on the NFI list ... his team doesn't have to pay his weekly salary." Martin, making "a little more than $607,000 this year in base salary, would have forfeited $35,733 for every week he was on the NFI list." Volin: "Yes, it's fair to ask: Did Martin go AWOL without realizing the financial consequences, and now his people -- most likely his agents -- are trying to clean up the mess?" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/7). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde asks, "Could all this be over $300,000? Is that worth ruining careers and reputations over?" Hyde: "Martin is owed about $2.8 million over the next two years. Add in this year's missing salary and it's about $3.1 million. If it turns out this story is about money, and only money, I'm going to throw up" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 11/7).