Two days ago, Palm Beach Post writer Brian Biggane published a blog entry on the newspaper's "Daily Dolphin" site. In that article, Biggane determined that Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin had lied to Biggane, questioning the Dolphins' coach's integrity. [Editor's Note: The original article is no longer on the Daily Dolphin page at the Palm Beach Post's website.]
The basis for this article was Philbin's handling of the medical situation revolving around wide receiver Brian Hartline. Hartline was held out of all of the team's offseason workouts, and the coach was vague about the situation. Initial beliefs were that the receiver was dealing with a calf injury. As practices continued, Hartline was not participating in any rehab work, raising even more questions about the nature of Hartline's absence.
Biggane then dug further, asking the head coach about Hartline. Philbin responded that Hartline was dealing with a personal issue, and it would have no bearing on his performance this year, or his being ready for training camp. It's now known that Hartline was having an appendectomy.
Well, Biggane then ranted that Philbin had been intentionally deceitful, despite having been genuine throughout his first few months with the team. Biggane continued to state that, because of the handling of the Hartline situation, he, and all the Miami fans, would now have to take anything the head coach said from now on with a grain of salt.
Yesterday, Biggane related that Philbin had called him, to explain his side of the story - and essentially tell him he did not like having his integrity questioned.
"While Joe Philbin had a right to be upset, he didn't come off that way when I answered his phone call Tuesday morning," Biggane wrote in a post on the "Daily Dolphin" yesterday.
"The first-year Dolphins coach had seen that he had been called 'disingenuous' and, even worse, 'a liar' in a blog I posted on this site a day earlier and wanted to clear the air before this became an issue with me or our readers heading into training camp."
Biggane justifies his questioning of Philbin's honesty by explaining that, to him, if a coach says it is a "personal issue," he will "typically take it to mean perhaps a relative is ill, he's dealing with another family issue, he's been given permission to attend a wedding, and so on. I'll leave that alone and allow him his privacy."
Biggane continues to explain that a medical issue, especially if it is one that could affect a player being ready for the beginning of training camp, is a story and people want the details. However, Philbin explained to Biggane, according to Biggane's article, " a medical issue such as the one Hartline was experiencing fell under 'personal issue' because it's not an injury. He added that if Hartline chose to tell people about it, as he did last week on WQAM, that was his prerogative. But since it was a) not an injury and b) won't affect him come the start of camp, Philbin felt it was not something that had to be disseminated."
There's never any mention of the fact that Philbin, as a member of the Dolphins', Hartline's employer, is actually banned from discussing Hartline's medical status. By saying that the receiver was taking care of a personal issue - and even adding that he was having a "procedure" - that's literally the most Philbin could say. Hartline was never required to divulge that he had the appendectomy, and it was not Philbin's place to do it for him.
Biggane concluded his follow up post by writing:
"It should be said here that I've found Philbin to have a great deal of integrity and to be very forthright in his dealings with the media. While he doesn't joke around with the media even in the most relaxed of situations, he has done his best to treat everyone equally and give a well-thought-out answer to every question. Perhaps that's why what I perceived to be a bit of deception stood out.
"This morning's 10-minute conversation finished on a light note as Philbin said, 'I'll have no problem with you criticizing my coaching abilities, and I figure you'll get the chance to do that pretty soon.'"
Perhaps, after the discussion with Philbin, Biggane will take a minute next time before he questions someone else's integrity. It was pretty simple to see that Philbin could not explain a medical situation to a reporter without Hartline's permission, or the receiver admitting it himself. Rather than immediately jumping to calling someone a liar, maybe taking a second to think through why someone is saying or doing whatever it is would be the prudent action.