The Miami Dolphins have been on national TV and news websites lately thanks to an apparent case of bullying, with the offensive line under scrutiny for their treatment of tackle Jonathan Martin. The second year tackle left the Dolphins on Monday after a prank was pulled on him in the cafeteria, checking himself into an emotional treatment facility. All of the rumors and speculation, and a report from ESPN, had the NFLPA investigating the Dolphins, specifically guard Richie Incognito, for the apparent bullying.
Except, there apparently has never been an NFLPA investigation. Yesterday, the Palm Beach Post's Andrew Abramson was told that by the Players Association that the NFLPA are not investigating Incognito or the Dolphins.They said they are relying on the Dolphins management to ensure there is a safe working environment, and that harassment does not happen to any player.
The Dolphins released a statement on the situation this morning:
"The Miami Dolphins, including Coach Joe Philbin and Jonathan's teammates, have been in communication with Jonathan and his family since his departure from the club and continue to be in contact. Our primary concern for Jonathan is his overall health and well-being. As an organization, we take any accusations of player misconduct seriously. The notion of bullying is based on speculation and has not been presented to us as a concern from Jonathan or anyone else internally. The reports that the NFLPA is investigating our players are inaccurate. Additionally, the NFL offered its assistance during this time, which we appreciated and gladly accepted. We will continue to make Jonathan's health and well-being a focus as we do with all of our players."
Earlier this week, Incogntio and Martin had a conversation via text message, during which Martin wrote, "Yeah, I'm good man. It's insane bro, but just know I don't blame you guys at all. It's just the culture around football, and the locker room got to me a little."
Incognito also wrote a message to Adam Schefter, ESPN's lead reporter on most of the Martin situation stories:
@AdamSchefter Stop slandering my name. You hide behind "sources" who are not man enough to put their name behind the BS you report— Richie incognito (@68INCOGNITO) November 3, 2013
The Pro Bowl guard also tweeted earlier this morning:
Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. Buddha— Richie incognito (@68INCOGNITO) November 3, 2013
At this point, it seems like ESPN jumped on the bullying angle to the story, with some "sources," as Incognito wrote, saying the guard was the lead in picking on Martin since last year, but were quick to take it in that direction. Martin has, according to the text messages, seemed to deny the bullying situation. Incognito has denied bullying. The Dolphins have denied bullying. The NFLPA seems to be saying they don't see enough to actually launch an investigation into the bullying allegations.
Similarly, this summer, Schefter jumped on a story about Incognito, alleging that the guard had punched and knocked out a security guard at a club in Miami, despite having not actually checking the story against the police report from the incident. In that case, the Miami Herald's Adam Beasley did what a reporter should do, checked the police report, and found that Incognito had abrasion and bruises, while the guard had "none" listed under the injuries section of the report. The police report also stated that Incognito was attempting to breakup a fight at the club when the security guard punched him. Then, Incognito called the police. At no point was any punch thrown by Incognito, and no charges or citations were issued to the Dolphins' lineman.
Once again, there appears to be a lot of smoke generated from an ESPN report on Incognito, only to find the reality is different. Could more still come from the Martin story? Of course. But, at this point, it seems more like what it seemed like before ESPN's bullying report: Martin has an emotional issue, reached his breaking point, and is now trying to get help.
The Dolphins do not play again until Monday Night Football in Week 10, after winning the Thursday night game this week. The team listed Martin on the injury report all last week, describing the situation as an "illness." They could continue to do the same over the next week, but the team is expecting Martin to be away from the team for at least a few weeks. They could place Martin on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) list, which would free a roster spot, as well as allow the team to activate Martin whenever he is ready to return to the field.
With the NFL getting back to games today, as well as the unfortunate news of Denver Broncos coach John Fox needing heart surgery, the focus of the national media is starting to leave Miami and Martin, which is probably exactly what the team, and the player, need to actually begin rehabbing the situation and getting back to normal activities.
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