Since the end of October, the Miami Dolphins have had to deal with allegations, rumors, and leaks all stemming from tackle Jonathan Martin, who deserted the team mid-way through the season after a lunchroom prank was pulled on him. Martin spent nearly a week away from the team before alleging locker room misconduct, specifically toward guard Richie Incognito, allegations that led to Incognito missing the entire second half of the season after the team suspended him.
Martin, who had been demoted from left tackle to right the week before his departure, ended the season on the Non-Football Injury list.
The former Stanford Cardinal broke his three month silence on Tuesday, agreeing to an interview with former NFL head coach and current NBC analyst Tony Dungy. While snippets of that interview aired Tuesday night and yesterday morning, the entire meeting did not air until last night on NBC Sports Network. After much hype and advertising, the interview fell flat on nearly every front.
Dungy, who has a reputation as a man who goes out of his way to help players, was the wrong person to conduct this interview - though if I were Martin, that's exactly why I agreed to it while turning down every other interview request. Dungy was clearly there to help Martin, which is why little new details were provided during the meeting, why no question about the alleged physical altercation happened, why he stated he had not spoken to anyone from the Dolphins since leaving the team, directly contradicting statements from head coach Joe Philbin and Incognito.
"I did mention to members of the organization that I was struggling. I had some conversations with my coaches immediately above me. I didn't get into specifics. There is this code of conduct that players have. You're not supposed to 'snitch' on your teammates. I wanted to be friends with these teammates. I didn't see it as my place to go above the heads of leaders of offensive linemen to talk to coaches about my teammates... to go behind their back and go to a coach, I didn't see that as an avenue to me."
To which coaches did you not specifically complain? Why did you feel you couldn't go over the head of the "leaders of the offensive linemen," if it was the leader of the offensive linemen which was causing the problem? If you were not specific about the problem, how did you think the coaches would solve the problem? When did you approach them?
Who threatened you?
"It was more than one (individual). I think it was the accepted culture. Like I said, I'm a football player, I'm a professional. I don't think there is a place to disrespect people in a professional sport. Offensive linemen are like a brotherhood."
I have brothers. If I have an issue with a brother, I deal with it by letting them know I have an issue. I was in a fraternity. If we had problems, we dealt with it by letting them know we had an issue. That's how you deal with things in a brotherhood, right? Not by leaking things to the media to make as much noise as possible.
In trying to deal with this situation, did you ever approach head coach Joe Philbin?
"I did not. It was something I didn't feel comfortable sharing, because I wanted to be friends with my teammates. I worked hard to be friends with Richie Incognito and others. I think it's important to build these friendships with teammates. So I turned it back on myself. What did I do wrong to be treated like this?"
Why didn't you feel like you could approach your head coach? You weren't comfortable sharing this privately with you coach, but you felt like it was okay to release it to the media?
Reports have stated that you checked into a hospital after you left the Dolphins. Is that true?
"That has been reported, but I don't think that is what is important. I think what is important is what happened that led me to leave. What made me to feel uncomfortable to the point where I had to leave. That is what has been important."
Leaving the team for apparent emotional issues, and possibly having to check into the hospital for them, isn't important? Couldn't those emotional issues have played a part in your feeling isolated and not trusting anyone?
I'm not saying Dungy did a poor job at this interview. I like Dungy and think he does a lot of great work with the NFL and with 22-year-old kids who was instant millionaires simply for signing a contract before ever stepping on an actual NFL field. Dungy is a great example for young players, and for people in general. But, he was not the right person for this interview.
After a nearly 30-minute interview, we know nothing more today than we knew a month ago. Martin has hidden from the media for three months, then suddenly decides to do an interview and says nothing. He did not help himself on Tuesday, but he did hurt the Dolphins and himself. He cast more focus on the Dolphins' coaching staff, without identifying who should be in the spotlight. He alleged multiple players involved in the hazing, but would not provide names or examples other than bad words. He did not touch the off-facility fight.
And that's the unfortunate part in all of this. There are no winners. There won't be any winners. Martin has lost his job with the Dolphins and, potentially, in the NFL. Incognito was suspended for half a season the year after making the Pro Bowl. The Dolphins have dealt with the black-eye that won't go away from this situation. The NFL has had to investigate one of its own franchises and now has to share the Super Bowl week with this story. The fans have to deal with another negative story about the team they follow, a story that is three months old and counting.
There are no winners in this. But, there are sure going to be people that keep trying.