Ted Wells CANCELS Planned Interviews with Dolphins Players, Bully-Gate Report to Be Delayed till 2014

What Richie is thinking after hearing the report won't be released until after this year - Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The "investigation" into allegations of bullying made by former Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin has taken an "interesting" turn recently

The Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito saga began with reports of Martin "having a mental breakdown" the Monday after his first game playing right tackle this season. Reports then indicated Martin had gone "AWOL" after a "cafeteria prank." Martin then filed a formal complaint about alleged abusive behavior by teammates. The Miami Dolphins organization reacted by placing Incognito on "indefinite suspension" as leaks from "anonymous sources" then began dominating the airwaves with stories of Incognito doing terrible things to Martin, including "death threats," "verbal and psychological abuse," "extorting $15,000 for a trip Martin didn't even attend," "use of racist language," etc. Unsurprisingly, public opinion turned on Incognito quickly. Local media outlets began reporting that Incognito was "done" with the Dolphins.

After the team issued a statement on the matter, the Dolphins went silent and reportedly told the players not to speak to the media. That allowed the media narrative to be dominated by contradictory reports from "league sources," "team sources," "associates of Jonathan Martin," "unnamed Dolphins players," etc. However, after the team lifted a "gag" order on the players, the Dolphins locker room was unanimous in defending Incognito. Current and even former Dolphins players like Lydon Murtha provided context to the Vegas trip (Martin agreed to go then backed out after it was prepaid), the pranks (Martin played pranks himself, and everybody had been a "target" at times), the language (Incognito was a good enough friend that most didn't mind his use of racially-charged slang), etc.

A confusing, emotionally charged situation like that called for an outside report, which Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wisely requested from the NFL, who appointed Ted Wells to lead the investigation and write a definitive report. Incognito's fate this season is believed to rest on its conclusions, which explains his decision to accept a prolonged suspension from the Dolphins in exchange for receiving a paycheck while the team waits patiently for the report.

Wells decided to conduct multiple rounds of interviews. He first interviewed Martin individually, and then, Wells interviewed Dolphins' team employees, coaches, and players over the course of a week. Just recently, Wells finished interviewing Martin for a second time, and it was reported that he planned to interview 11 key Dolphins players a second time (according to CBS News) prior to writing the report. It gave hope to Incognito that he could have his name cleared in time to play this season.

Well, two reports from national media outlets have cast doubt on that happening. First, Adam Schefter of ESPN (whose accuracy has been "hit or miss" on this story) reported that:

"Ted Wells' second interview with Richie Incognito scheduled for this week has been cancelled, as have interviews with 11 other Dolphins." - 1

"Ted Wells' report on Dolphins situation now is not expected to be completed before the end of the year." - 2

Then, Jeff Darlington of NFL Network (who has generally been spot-on due to his sources with the team from his prior job as a beat reporter working for the Miami Herald) reported:

"In wake of second meeting with Jonathan Martin, Ted Wells has cancelled follow-up meetings with Richie Incognito and several other players." - 1

"All of the players Wells planned to meet with for a second time were offensive linemen. Wells provided them no explanation for cancelling." - 2

"While no explanation was given to players for reason behind Wells’ cancellations, it was made clear that it was result of meeting w/ Martin." - 3

If these reports are true, it's very likely Incognito won't be seen on the field for the rest of the year since the team has decided to await on the report to determine his fate.

As for what led to the decision to cancel Wells' interviews with Dolphins players after a second interview with Martin, we can only speculate. I think it's safe to assume that Martin had no new allegations in his second interview. Otherwise, Wells would have wanted to talk to players to get their side of the story ASAP.

Beyond that, it's hard to say. The point of the second interview with Martin was to allow Martin to counter any claims made by the Dolphins players in their interview. However, Martin's testimony in the second interview led Wells to cancel further interviews and conclude his report won't be ready until 2014 at the earliest.

I've seen some fans speculate that Martin may have recanted his allegations, but that doesn't sound right. The report wouldn't be delayed if it were that simple - Wells would simply announce Martin was withdrawing his allegations.

The two explanations I favor are:

1. Martin has not recanted his testimony, but he has decided to stop cooperating. He might do this if he's worried this investigation is jeopardizing his NFL career. He might do this if his plan is to abandon this investigation and launch a lawsuit against the Dolphins. Regardless of the reason, the "main witness" refusing to cooperate would lead an investigator to cancel further interviews since he'd have no new questions to ask. ESPN (so take it with a grain of salt) is reporting that Martin won't turn over certain text messages to Wells, and Martin has been reluctant to sit down for an interview with NFLPA investigator Richard Smith.

UPDATE: ESPN has backtracked on that - they now report Martin is turning over all text messages, and he is willing to meet with the NFLPA investigator. (h/t Phinsider Strange)

2. Wells perhaps was "less than convinced" by Martin's second interview. If Wells has reason to believe that Martin is contradicting himself or making demonstrably false claims, there would be no point in talking to Dolphins player/personnel anymore for their response.

So, what do you all think, again with the caveat that this is all speculation.

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