Dolphins Players and Coaches Believe in Their Locker Room
The message coming out of Miami over the past week has been one of solidarity by the Dolphins players and coaches. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell named special counsel Ted Wells to head up the review into Miami’s workplace environment and what happened between players Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin.
ProFootballTalk is reporting per league sources, that Dolphins G.M. Jeff Ireland received a call from Martin’s agent before Martin left the team facility. The agent, Rick Smith, is said to have informed Ireland about how Incognito was treating Martin. Ireland ‘s response was to suggested to Smith that Martin physically confront Incognito and “punch” him.
Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill said the reports about the actions of Incognito caught him of guard, “It’s really a surprise. The whole thing is kind of mind blowing to me and it’s kind of mind blowing to most of the guys on the team right now.”
“I had no clue about the voicemail. I had never seen that, had never heard about that. All I know about Richie (Incognito) is that he was a great teammate to me, I saw him being a great teammate all the time. Does he like to give guys a hard time? Yes. Does he like to pester guys and have fun? Yes. He brought a lot of laughter to this locker room, he brought a lot of cohesiveness to this locker room and he was the best teammate that I could ask for.”
Tannehill wasn’t aware of any problems between the two players and would have intervened if he thought there was an issue. “I think if you would ask John Martin a week before who his best friend on the team was, he would say, Richie Incognito. The first guy to stand up for Jonathan (Martin) when anything went down on the field, any kind of tussle, Richie (Incognito) was the first guy there. When they wanted to hang out outside of football, who was together, Richie (Incognito) and Jonathan (Martin).”
In his view Martin was like Incognito’s little brother. “The situation, I wasn’t sitting at the table but the whole situation that everyone knows about now, where they stand up just as a joke, they’ve played it on me before. I’ve had the same several times played on me. Right when he was about to come up, Richie (Incognito) said ‘Jonathan is like my little brother,’ and I think that’s an accurate depiction. He gave him a hard time, he messed with him, but he was the first one there to have his back in any situation and it’s a big surprise what’s going on.”
On thing that was clear from Tannehill’s comments, and other Dolphins’ players over the past few days, is they believe in each other, would welcome either Martin or Incognito back, despite the challenges, and think the attacks on their locker room are wrong.
“We have a bunch of good guys in this locker room and to be put in a situation where everyone’s attacking the locker room, saying it’s such a bad place, such a bad culture, no leadership to stand up and stop the situation, no one knew there was a situation to be stopped, said Tannehill. “It’s really tough for us to sit here and hear all of that when we have each other’s backs and I wouldn’t have a problem stopping a situation if it was occurring. Richie (Incognito) didn’t use that type of language, that was on the voice mail and in the locker room he didn’t talk to other guys that way, in a derogatory way that was attacking.”
Head Coach Joe Philbin said, “I believe in the men in our locker room, and I believe in our coaching staff. That’s exactly what I communicated to them today. I think we have men in the locker room that care about one another, that set a great example for one another.”
He said Martin was a player that worked hard every single day and that the responsibility of coaches to the players is to help players reach their potential. “When I took the job, the first communication I ever had with the football team (was) I’m going to hire people that have your best interests in mind. ”
As to the use of racial slurs Philbin said, “Those aren’t part of my vocabulary. That’s all I’ll say on that. If the review reveals anything that needs to be corrected, we will take all necessary measures to fix it to ensure this doesn’t happen again. I’ve said all I can at this time as it relates to the NFL review process, and I will have no further comment.”
Players and coaches are trying to tune out the distractions and focus on their job, preparing for their Monday night game against Tampa Bay.
Follow Melissa on Twitter @Melissa_PPI
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