NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in recent years has "made perfectly clear ... that executives are held to a higher standard than players," and thus Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland "should be fired" after he reportedly suggested that OT Jonathan Martin punch G Richie Incognito to stop the bullying and hazing to which he was being subjected, according to ESPN's Damien Woody. ESPN's Jemele Hill added, "If that is what is coming from your GM, it's no wonder that maybe Richie Incognito felt even more empowered to exercise his platform as a leader the way that he did" ("Numbers Never Lie," ESPN2, 11/7). USA TODAY's Christine Brennan writes if the NFL "ends up fining or suspending Dolphins coaches for what they knew or didn't know, or the general manager who allegedly suggested that Martin fight back by punching Incognito, the Dolphins will be the better for it" (USA TODAY, 11/8). CBSSN's Jim Rome said Ireland’s job is "about putting the right personalities in that locker room, yet he’s urging them to turn the locker room into an Octagon." Rome: "It’s really no wonder that ‘Fins fans have called this guy ‘Fireland’ for years" (“Rome,” CBSSN, 11/7). In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette writes under the header, "Dolphins' GM, Coach Deserve Most Of Blame" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 11/8).
WHERE DO THINGS GO FROM HERE? FoxSports.com's Alex Marvez reported at "some point very, very, very soon," Incognito is expected to file a grievance against the Dolphins for "losing his weekly $235,294.12 salary." Incognito is in the final year of a three-year, $12.9M contract extension signed in March '11, and he becomes a free agent in the offseason (TWITTER.com, 11/7). CSNBayArea.com's Andy Dolich said the Dolphins have not been "professional" in the way the organization has handled the scandal. Dolich said, "This was an institutional failure … and you will have the league step in" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 11/7). ESPN's Phil Savage said there is no "handbook or paint-by-numbers answer to get out of this in terms of how the Dolphins handle it" ("NFL Insiders," ESPN, 11/7). In Miami, Greg Cote writes the Dolphins' "biggest problem is what happens from here" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/8). Meanwhile, a USA TODAY editorial states of Incognito's allegedly offensive messages to Martin, "That level of intimidation appears to be an aberration, and if that's the way it stays, the incident probably doesn't warrant some sweeping new leaguewide policy." But it "does show how quickly such behavior can spin out of control if coaches ignore it." Any "smart boss would keep hazing out of his workplace," and that "should include coaches." It "doesn't really make players better or help teams bond" (USA TODAY, 11/8).
NFL'S IMAGE PROBLEM: In Louisville, Tim Sullivan writes, "Pro football has never been more popular, or harder to like." If the NFL "deliberately misled players about the long-term health risks of concussions, distorting medical evidence and discrediting those doctors inclined to face facts, that would be inexcusable," and if it paid 4,000 ex-employees and their families $765M to "keep its dirty secrets out of the courtroom, it deserves our contempt more than our dollars." Yet reaction has "been so muted and television ratings so strong that it has been tough to see a lasting stain on Teflon football." Despite a "lengthening list of scandals ... the public continues to view pro football in a vacuum, as a form of entertainment in which virtue is no more relevant than it is in the marketing of Miley Cyrus" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 11/8).