It’s been a strange few days for the Miami Dolphins and tackle Jonathan Martin.
Last week, Martin abruptly left the team. Reports surfaced of bullying. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith called it a “major priority.”
Eventually, ESPN reported that Dolphins guard Richie Incognito was specifically under scrutiny for the alleged mistreatment of Martin. The next day, the NFLPA announced it wasn’t investigating the situation.
Now, the Dolphins have released a statement indicating that there was no bullying and never was or was going to be an NFLPA investigation.
“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,” the team said in a statement. “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.”
The good news is that the statement indicates there’s no deeper problem with the organization. The bad news is that, if the normal and usual NFL interactions resulted in Martin leaving the team, he could have a hard time returning to — and remaining in — any NFL locker room.
It’s still not clear what is and isn’t true, however. When the Dolphins say that bullying “has not been presented to us as a concern from Jonathan,” it could be that Martin has decided that it would be harder to come back if he makes a formal complaint of bullying against his teammates.
From Martin’s perspective, he surely wants the environment to change. With Martin possibly choosing not to “tell on” his teammates, maybe they’ll go easier on him if/when he comes back.