The many flaws in the latest Ted Wells Report has caused some (e.g., me) to wonder whether there were flaws that went unnoticed in the first Ted Wells Report, the one that arose from the bullying scandal in Miami.
On the day that report was issued, lawyer Mark Schamel claimed on behalf of former Dolphins (now Bills) guard Richie Incognitio that the report was “replete with errors,” and vowed to “release a thorough analysis.” For reasons still not known (perhaps Incognito opted not to risk being permanently blackballed from the NFL), the analysis never was released.
Now back in the league, Incognito has articulated what many (e.g., me) are wondering about the original Ted Wells report. Did it have flaws that the media and fans opted not to smoke out because everyone just assumed Incognito got what he deserved?
“Ted Wells came in with a mission against me,” Incognito told Bob Glauber of Newsday. “Ted Wells came in slanted against me and everything in his report was slanted against me. There were some things in there that would have helped my cause that were left out.”
Glauber asked what was left out.
“Teammate testimony, stuff like that,” Incognito said. “You see that in Brady’s case. There’s a lot of stuff that got left out. There’s a lot of misinformation.”
So let’s have that information. If Schamel pulled back in the hopes that discretion would make it easier for Incognito to get back into the league, there’s no reason to hold back now. Release the analysis and clear Incognito’s name.
Incognito, who has come off very well in recent interviews, is now preaching to a growing choir regarding the need for a truly fair system for disciplining employees.
“I just think it’s bogus, the whole system in how it’s set up with Roger [Goodell] and the complete, absolute power he has,” Incognito said. “He has so much power and he hires independent investigators who come in and are obviously not independent. They come in with an agenda and they come in looking to find facts to back up their argument. All the facts are slanted in their favor.”
Incognito praised Goodell for other actions, like making the game safer. But Incognito wants to see real changes in the area of player punishments.
“I think with Roger, with so much power, just keeps fumbling over independent investigations and making everything public,” Incognito said. “I think it just needs to be a more concise system. Roger can’t be the judge, jury and executioner on this thing. I understand league discipline. You have to get after guys who are being dumb. But you can’t appeal back to the person who handed down your punishment. You have to get a little power out of [Goodell’s] hands and get [an independent arbitrator] to take a look at it.”
Incognito is right. Even though he received no further discipline from the league because the Dolphins already imposed discipline against him (and the labor deal allows for only one punishment), Incognito had no meaningful way to challenge the conclusions Wells made — conclusions that now cry out for a closer look given the flaws in the more recent Wells investigation.
And if that closer look happens, maybe the NFL will convene another Angry Ted Wells conference call.