- Fins fire OL coach Turner Jim Turner and head trainer Kevin Oneill were fired today by the Miami Dolphins
- Fins hire new GM Miami Dolphins announce Dennis Hickey as their new GM
- GM Jeff Ireland Resigns Dolphins announce that GM Jeff Ireland mutually agrees to part with Miami
- OC Mike Sherman fired The Dolphins terminated OC Mike Sherman
The Report is out Incognito, Turner look bad, others as well
So the results of this lengthy investigation are in. (144 pages) In short, it paints a clear picture that Incognito, Jerry, and Pouncey were guilty of harassing Jonathon Martin, other offensive lineman, and an Assistant Trainer.
I have a lot of questions, but in no way do I want to portray that I am not sympathetic to Martin’s dilemma. He clearly was harassed, abused, and mistreated.
A few questions come to me immediately.
- Why is there no support system in place?
- Why did no players see this was tormenting him?
- Why did Martin never approach Joe Philbin?
I can’t answer the first two, but I can assume he feared retaliation from the players had he spoken to the coach. It is clear he was/is a tormented man. The following text messages are taken directly from the report which you can view at nfldolphinsreport.com
One of the most telling communications was between Martin and his mother on April 22nd. (Condensed for space)
I figured out a major source of my anxiety. I’m a push over, a people pleaser. I avoidconfrontation whenever I can, I always want everyone to like me. I letpeople talk about me, say anything to my face, and I just take it, laugh it off, even when I know they are intentionally trying to disrespect me. I mostly blame the soft schools I went to, which fostered within me a feeling that I’m a huge pussy, as I never got into fights. I used to get verbally bullied every day in middle school and high school, by kids that are half my size. I would never fight back, just get sad & feel like no one wanted to be my friend, when in fact I was just being socially awkward.
Sometimes I very badly want to quit football, as I feel like it has ‘forced me’ to act a certain way, to hang out with certain people, & prevented me from fully taking advantage of the social and cerebral advantages of college & experiencing new things and meeting new people. But it is the one thing that has kept me going, given me focus. One day I want to disappear, travel the world, and hopefully find myself, because as of today I don’t know who I am. I am deeply troubled, I have been lying to myself saying that eventually I’ll get over it. I won’t.
Everywhere I go, I get punked. I have a disagreeable personality, people are always annoyed by me. And I don’t know how to stop it. I don’t. High school still and will forever haunt me.
I always wonder why I have these feelings. I’m unbelievably blessed. Why do I always feel this way? I really am getting increasingly tempted to just get in my car and leave Miami. But something holds me back every time, because part of me still loves football. But I am losing touch with that part more and more every day.
Shortly thereafter, Martin’s mother responded in part:
I am so glad you shared this with me . . . W e will work through this together.
My first thought is that I am glad you wrote this down as a way to start figuring it out. Your profession is really difficult with measurement and evaluation every week. So we need to build up you liking you. This is where some professional help would be good. They can help you structure your thoughts. And that whole brain chemistry thing is real. You may need some additional seratonin. . . .
Follow-up messages from Martin to his mother on the same day included:
I care about my legacy as a professional athlete. But I’m miserable currently. A therapist & medication won’t help me gain the respect of my teammates. I really don’t know what to do Mom.
. . . I just always avoid confrontation, which is what I’ve always done, and that leads to [people] perceiving you as soft. I did it at Stanford, and didn’t gain anyone’s respect until I became a star.
Same thing in high school. I had no respect til I became a prospect.
This leaves me with more questions.
- A man who admittedly got his butt kicked by people half his size chooses to play an aggressive sport like football seems odd to me, why did he choose this path, and what were his expectations?
- After this has become public, does he not realize he’ll be a target of his opponents if he does return?
- Will an NFL team want him with his mental condition? He’s not exactly an All-Pro?
Questions aside, it is clear that Martin carried this mental baggage from very early on in his youth. I am sure there were plenty of self doubts, and insecurities he had to deal with in relation to his play, and his own person. Clearly, he was a touch immature, and emotionally troubled.
In the last few lines of those texts Martin states to his mother that:
“I just always avoid confrontation, which is what I’ve always done, and that leads to [people] perceiving you as soft. I did it at Stanford, and didn’t gain anyone’s respect until I became a star.”
The one consistency is he never reported his feelings to his coach, or superiors. I am not faulting him for this as I am sure he had he reasons, but I do find it a bit odd if he was that uncomfortable.
Its clear Incognito is either bi-polar, or a raging alcoholic. Nobody in their right mind can defend some of his actions. The golf club incident in 2012 being a great example, another example is the leaked TMZ video that shows a shirtless Incognito running around drunk in a bar acting a fool. I am sure there are many, many others just based on his behavior. The report states he was fined $50,000 for the Golf Club incident, and another $5,000 for commandeering a guest’s car, and allegedly damaging the guest’s luggage. He has admitted that both incidents were fueled by alcohol. Incognito’s a funny guy. He’s the class clown. The problem is he is also the classic alpha male and the class bully.
While I do not believe he bullied Martin with the intent of harm, you have to feel he certainly sensed his weakness and exploited it for laughs. That is bullying. You can call it hazing, or building team chemistry, or whatever you like, but by definition it is classic bullying. That’s the problem for both the Miami Dolphins, and the NFL.
They simply cannot allow this to occur in the workplace regardless of the intent.
Let’s first outline what a partial definition of workplace bullying is:
- Verbal abuse
- Offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating
- Is driven by perpetrators’ need to control the targeted individual(s).
- Is initiated by bullies who choose their targets, timing, location, and methods.
- Escalates to involve others who side with the bully, either voluntarily or through coercion.
- Undermines legitimate business interests when bullies’ personal agendas take precedence over work itself.
Its clear Incognito’s actions hit on every one of those bullet points listed above, including getting Jerry, and Pouncey to follow his lead.
Incognito also abused an Assistant Trainer in just a tasteless manor. He abused that woman in 2012 in another tasteless manor, and at least two other players as well. Nate Garner who stated, “I’ve put up with this crap for 6 years.” As well as a player the report refers to “Player A”
Here is another small excerpt from the report which I think is telling.
Incognito did not dispute that he and others made repeated vulgar insults about Martin’s sister. Incognito stated that one goal of making such graphic comments was to irritate Martin. One player, whom we found credible, said that Incognito and others routinely mocked Martin’s sister and described the taunting as “an everyday constant thing.
So the repeated intent to frustrate Martin was clear.
The team has put together a committee to work up what should, and shouldn’t be allowed to take place. The thing is, those rules were already present, and given out to the players twice in the past year. Per the report:
- Presentations by Coach Philbin
Coach Philbin gives presentations twice a year, at the start of the off-season training program in April and during training camp in July, during which he addresses professionalism and decorum.
- Personal Conduct Policy
In 2012 and 2013, the Dolphins players were given a policy called the “Personal Conduct Policy,” which each player acknowledged in writing that he had received and understood.
- Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Policy
In 2013, for the first time, the Dolphins issued a short “Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Policy” to players; again, each player acknowledged that he had received and understood it.
The last point I want to touch on because I feel it is important is the Head Coach. Here is what the report found:
We find that Head Coach Joe Philbin was not aware of the mistreatment of Martin, Player A or the Assistant Trainer. After interviewing Coach Philbin at length, we were impressed with his commitment to promoting integrity and accountability throughout the Dolphins organization—a point echoed by many players. We are convinced that had Coach Philbin learned of the underlying misconduct, he would have intervened promptly to ensure that Martin and others were treated with dignity.
Martin claimed that both of his offensive line coaches, Turner and Mosley, overheard some of the raunchy comments about his sister, in the offensive line room or on the practice field. Incognito does not dispute these assertions. According to both Martin and Incognito, Turner neither joined nor criticized the harsh language. Also, both Martin and Incognito said they thought Turner was a good coach.
Mosley admitted overhearing the crude joking about Martin’s sister; in fact, Mosley specifically recalled a two-week period during which Martin’s teammates constantly made such comments. Martin also asserted that, on occasion, Mosley participated in such insults; Mosley denied this. Ultimately, however, both Martin and Incognito agreed that the bulk of the insulting comments were not made in front of Turner and Mosley, and both players were uncertain to what extent their coaches truly appreciated the nature of the conduct at issue.
We note that Martin did not allege that any Dolphins coaches or personnel heard Incognito calling him a “nigger.” Such conduct occurred away from the workplace, along with most other racially derogatory taunting addressed to Martin, except for Incognito’s “stinky Pakistani” gibes.
We find that Turner knew that Player A was taunted for supposed homosexuality. According to Incognito, such comments were made with “high frequency.” Turner denied hearing them, but because he gave Player A a male blow-up doll for Christmas (while giving the rest of the linemen female dolls), we do not find his denial credible.
Based on the entire record, we find that Coaches Turner and Mosley were certainly aware of some of the insulting comments directed to Martin by Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey, although we cannot determine the full extent of that awareness and whether they had any appreciation of how hurtful this language was to Martin. It is undisputed that these coaches never sought to stop the behavior.
With respect to the Assistant Trainer, Martin and other players claimed that O’Neill, the head trainer, not only overheard the racist insults, but also sometimes laughed along and never intervened. We did not cover this specific topic in our interview with O’Neill, which was cut short because O’Neill expressed hostility toward our investigation.
Many fans believe that Joe Philbin should be fired for not having control of his team. I have trouble with this thought process for several reasons.
- The report found him to not be aware of the claims made by Martin.
- The coach and Trainer that would have known were at least partially hiding their own involvement. (OL Coach Jim Turner) Head Trainer (Kevin O’Neil.) (Coach Mosley the Assistant OL coach also knew, but is no longer with the team.)
- The head coach on a Pro Football team does not mingle in the locker room. In this case his office is upstairs, away from the distraction.
- Martin clearly, and by his own admission did not make ANY of the staff aware.
If you still believe Philbin is at fault for not having control of his team take a look at this video.
Martin did claim the following:
Martin reported that he heard the insults about his sister throughout the Dolphins training facility—in the locker room, on the practice field, in the showers, in the offensive line room (often before meetings got started), even sometimes in the cafeteria.
The only places you might find the Head Coach would be the practice fields, and possibly the cafeteria, now certainly the players would know better then to do it within earshot of the head man. Martin was also on record of saying he didn’t believe the coach was aware.
There is absolutely no proof that Philbin was aware, and something of this nature can easily be hidden with Assistant coaches involved. That is not to say he isn’t partially accountable, he is. But, to fire him over this would be unjust.
On the other hand, it would not surprise me if both Turner, and O’Neil are dismissed.
We’ll see what happens next with the staff, any potential penalties, and the committee’s recommendations. This is far from over.
Latest posts by Michael Fink (see all)
- The biggest problem with mediocrity - February 21, 2014
- The Report is out Incognito, Turner look bad, others as well - February 15, 2014
- Should Ryan Tannehill be on a short leash in 2014? - February 9, 2014