As the NFLPA continues to tiptoe through the conflict-of-interest minefield created by the Jonathan Martin–Richie Incognito situation, the union appears to be interested in trying to find some middle ground between the two camps.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith intends to call a meeting of Martin’s and Incognito’s agents “to discuss how damaging the situation is.”
Regardless of the stated reason for the meeting, Smith likely will be trying to see if there’s a way that a truce of some sort can be negotiated between the two men that the NFLPA has an equal duty to represent.
It’s not uncommon for a union to be caught in the crossfire of two employees who are at odds, and it makes sense for Smith to exercise the union’s jurisdiction over all registered contract agents to serve as an unofficial mediator, in the hopes of finding a solution that benefits both players.
If the report from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that Dolphins coaches asked Incognito to “toughen up” Martin is true, it’s possible that the union will be able to characterize both players as victims, with the team ultimately to blame for setting the chain of events in motion.
Complicating the union’s situation is the decision of multiple other Dolphins to make public statements that tend to support Incognito, who has been suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, and to criticize Martin, who remains absent from the team but not on the non-football illness list or any other reserve designation.
Those comments suggest that the players have done what the NFLPA can never do — choose sides.