Meadville Tribune

Breaking News

Sports

November 6, 2013

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE: Leadership vacuum to blame in Dolphins case?

DAVIE, Fla. — A leadership vacuum may have contributed to the troubled relationship between Miami Dolphins offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito, which has left both players sidelined and the team in turmoil.

The ongoing saga has raised questions about whether coach Joe Philbin and his staff were negligent in allowing issues between Martin and Incognito to fester. Current and ex-players around the NFL say the situation reflects a lack of leadership because teammates of Martin and Incognito didn’t intervene.

NFL officials are trying to determine who knew what when, and whether Incognito harassed or bullied Martin. A second-year tackle from Stanford, Martin left the team last week and is with his family in California to undergo counseling for emotional issues. Incognito has been suspended indefinitely.

A senior partner in a New York law firm with experience in sports cases was appointed Wednesday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to investigate possible misconduct in the Dolphins’ workplace and prepare a report that will be made public.

“If the review reveals anything that needs to be corrected, we will take all necessary measures to fix it,” Philbin said. “I believe in our players, I believe in our staff, I believe in our organization, the people around here. I know why I got into coaching, and I believe in the things that I’ve done.”

Two people familiar with the situation said Wednesday that Martin talked of quitting football earlier in his pro career before leaving the team last week. One person said Martin considered giving up the sport because of the way he was being treated by other offensive linemen on the team. The person added that Marin now wants to continue his football career.

Both people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Dolphins have said little about Martin’s departure.

Incognito’s harassment of Martin included text messages that were racist and threatening, two other people familiar with the situation previously told the AP. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the Dolphins and NFL haven’t disclosed the nature of the misconduct that led to Incognito’s suspension.

The team built by Philbin and general manager Jeff Ireland has undergone heavy roster turnover after losing records each of the past four years. Of the 53 players on the squad, 20 are new to Miami this season.

“That’s the one thing I’ve heard from every single former player ... there’s a lack of leadership,” said Jimmy Cefalo, a former Dolphins receiver and now their play-by-play announcer. “They might step in with Richie and say, ‘Look, this has got to change.”’

The Dolphins’ oldest player, 34-year-old John Denney, is a long snapper who sees little action. The second-oldest, 34-year-old Bryant McKinnie, has been with the team less than three weeks. The third-oldest, 31-year-old Tyson Clabo, joined the Dolphins this year.

In 2012 the team’s player leadership council included Reggie Bush, Karlos Dansby and Jake Long, all of whom left after last season. Their replacements were second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, newcomer Dannell Ellerbe — and Incognito.

“It’s easy to attack a locker room for a lack a leadership when we as players voted on our leaders for leadership council, and he was one of our leaders,” receiver Brian Hartline acknowledged.

An assertive veteran might have prevented any problems from escalating, said former NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson, now an analyst with NFL Network.

“In every locker room there are jerks; we all have them,” Tomlinson said. “But at the same time, there are always guys that can go and talk to that jerk and say, ‘You’re going overboard.’ My problem is Miami doesn’t have that guy. ...

“If you’re a player in that locker room, there has to be someone there to be able to step up and help that guy. You know the personnel of the guys in your locker room a lot of times — the leaders do — and if a guy can’t defend himself and isn’t capable of standing up for himself, it is up to the guys in that locker room to say, ‘Hey man, let’s not go there’ or ‘You’re going too far.”’

Such comments annoyed Dolphins players. Defensive end Cameron Wake, a fifth-year pro, said the criticism unfairly undermines the integrity of the organization.

“It’s unfortunate, it’s wrong, it’s ridiculous and it’s hard to hear,” Wake said. “Coach Philbin has done nothing but turn this organization in a positive direction from top to bottom.”

New York attorney Ted Wells was chosen by the NFL to investigate. He has conducted special investigations into the Syracuse basketball sexual harassment case, and the NBA players union leadership dispute. In the latter case, his report led to a change in the head of the union.

“He is on the job as of today and will undertake to complete his work as promptly as possible,” Goodell said in a statement. “Consistent with doing a thorough investigation, we have not imposed a specific timetable on him.”

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, commenting publicly on the case for the first time, applauded the appointment of Wells.

“He has an impeccable reputation, and we look forward to fully cooperating with the review,” Ross said in a statement. “We take this situation seriously.”

Among the issues to be examined will be the role of offensive line coach Jim Turner, a former Marine Corps infantry officer who is in his first NFL job. It was his job to groom Martin, a second-round draft choice from Stanford who won a starting job as a rookie last year but developed a reputation for lacking toughness.

Indianapolis Colts tight end Coby Fleener and Zach Ertz, a tight end with the Philadelphia Eagles, played with Martin at Stanford. Both disagreed with characterizations of Martin as soft for leaving the team rather than standing up to Incognito.

“That’s a stupid statement,” Fleener said. “I would dispute that and I’d debate anyone on that.”

“For people to kind of throw out that he’s soft for doing what he did I think is completely wrong,” Ertz said. “What do people want him to do, go fight him?  I don’t think that’s going to solve anything. I think he did what he had to do.”

Buffalo Bills center Eric Wood, who briefly played with Incognito in 2009, said he has kept up with developments because they share the same agent.

“I’ve kind of known, been one step ahead of what was coming just through communications with everybody,” Wood said. “The language was a terrible misjudgment. In today’s society, you just can’t use racial language. ... You’ve got to have respect for a guy. And when a guy’s kind of down, which I’m assuming (Martin) was, you’ve got to know when to pull off. And I think he really used some really bad misjudgment.”

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Sliding into second District 1 remains unbeaten after two routs

    Becca Siple’s response to a question on Twitter may have said it all.
    “Best experience of my life,” Siple said, when asked by The Meadville Tribune via Twitter to describe her experience thus far at the Senior League Softball East Regional Tournament. Following her response was the hashtag #D1isfamily.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Steelers camp Steelers LB Spence caps lengthy comeback

    The whistle blew and Sean Spence sprinted forward, each cathartic step distancing the linebacker from the horrific knee injury that threatened to end his NFL career before it even really began.
    Spence almost gleefully smashed into fullback Bryce Davis during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first full contact drill of training camp on Monday. The two tussled for several seconds before Davis — his fists full of Spence’s jersey — pulled them both to the ground.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • District 1 dominates at East Regional

    Outscoring its opponents 32-0, District 1 moved to 3-0 at the Senior League Softball East Regional Tournament on Monday with a pair of wins.

    July 28, 2014

  • Kissing the bricks Gordon wins at Indy for record 5th time

    With a tinge of gray hair at his temples, his hat on backward and his two young children by his side, Jeff Gordon celebrated as if he was 23 years old again.
    Gordon won a NASCAR-record fifth Brickyard 400 on Sunday, eight days before his 43rd birthday and on the weekend Indianapolis Motor Speedway celebrated the 20th anniversary of his first Brickyard victory.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Roethlisberger OK with choice to wait on new deal

    There are days when Ben Roethlisberger can feel every single hit he’s absorbed during a decade as one of the NFL’s most fearless quarterbacks.
    And there are days when the Pittsburgh Steelers star sees the young faces surrounding him in the huddle and it seems like he can play forever.

    July 26, 2014

  • Teen doping Survey: Teens experimenting with HGH on the rise

    Michael Guerreri wanted to try human growth hormones so he could look like a pro wrestler. Joe Badalanato hoped HGH would help him become a better football player. James O’Brien figured the drug would improve his fastball.
    The three 18-year-olds from suburban Philadelphia told The Associated Press this week that they bought bottles of HGH online in the past year. Turns out, what they bought was fake.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Montoya back at Indy intent on winning for Penske

    Juan Pablo Montoya is back at Indianapolis Motor Speedway — one night only, an encore of sorts, in a guest-starring role for Team Penske.
    The Colombian is entered in the Brickyard 400 for the explicit purpose of winning at Indy in NASCAR and giving team owner Roger Penske one of the few trophies missing from his collection.

    July 25, 2014

  • Haley Wise District 1 looking forward to bigger goals

    The members of the District 1 Senior League softball team haven’t spent a whole lot of time playing together.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Meadville's magical season comes to an end

    The state run is over for the Meadville Junior League All-Stars.
    Guess they’ll just have to content themselves with a District 1 championship, a Section 1 championship and an incredible turnaround from the year before.

    July 24, 2014

  • AP source: Gordon to meet with league Aug. 1

    The Cleveland Browns may soon learn whether they’ll have Josh Gordon this season.

    July 24, 2014

Sports Scoreboard
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Business Marquee
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Poll

A South Carolina woman was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The decision has created a debate over “free-range” parenting and whether it’s a good idea or not. What’s your take?

I’m fine with it. If she cannot afford childcare, what choice does she have?
This is horrible and very bad parenting.
I’m torn. It’s not right what she did, but it sounds like the mother had few other options.
     View Results
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks