In the past two days, some strange timing issues have arisen in connection with the Jonathan Martin case. For starters, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross opted, after two weeks of silence (other than a brief statement acknowledging the appointment of an outside investigator) to conduct a press conference only a couple of hours before Monday night’s eventual loss to the Buccaneers.
Now, PFT has confirmed Ross will meet with Martin on Wednesday — two days before Martin is interviewed by NFL investigator Ted Wells. (The news was first reported, as best we can tell, by Adam Schefter of ESPN.)
It’s odd that Martin would talk to Ross (and possibly other Dolphins executives) before meeting with Wells. Regardless of the intended agenda for the meeting — and for all anyone knows part of the goal will be to negotiate a severance or at a minimum to lay the foundation for it — meeting with the Dolphins before meeting with the NFL’s investigator potentially will influence what Martin will say when he meets with Wells.
It’s likely that the Dolphins aren’t willing to let Martin leave the team without paying back all or part of the unearned portion of his signing bonus. The meeting with Martin could, intentionally or not, entail the dangling of a carrot that his ability to walk away and keep his full $1.919 million signing bonus without a fight will be influenced by what he says and how he says it to Ted Wells.
The mere possibility that the Dolphins will say or do anything that could have an impact on the way Martin tells the truth to Wells (and there are many, many ways to legitimately tell the truth in situation like this) should prompt an immediate call from Wells to Ross and/or Commissioner Roger Goodell ordering the Dolphins to not meet with Martin and to have no further contact with Martin until Wells has a chance to meet with Martin and find out what he knows, unaffected by anything that Ross or anyone else from the team says to him.
Even if the meeting between the Dolphins and Martin occurs before Wells meets with Martin (and it shouldn’t), Martin should be advised by his representatives and lawyers to say as little as possible — and preferably nothing at all — regarding the things that did or didn’t happen to Martin.
Anything Martin says, in any setting and to any person, can be used against him later if/when the situation ends up in a court of law. When Martin meets with Wells, Martin essentially will “lock in” to his story. If he says anything to the Dolphins that conflicts in any material or immaterial way before that (or after it), the lawyers will explore using the inconsistency as proof that Martin wasn’t telling the truth in either or both settings.
The best way to avoid these issues would be for Wells to exercise the independence he supposedly possesses by calling the Dolphins right now and telling them not to meet with Martin at any time before Wells’ investigation ends.