With his team rocked by a locker-room harassment scandal involving Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told reporters on Monday afternoon that he is “appalled by the allegations” and promised the team would have “a code of conduct that suits the 21st century.”
Ross spoke with reporters at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium before the Dolphins’ “Monday Night Football” game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and said he would meet with Martin at a location he did not disclose. Martin, who left the team two weeks ago after a lunch-room incident, has not yet been heard from. He reportedly will make a statement in a video, perhaps as early as this week, and has hired attorney David Cornwell to represent him. Martin also is likely to meet with Ted Wells, the independent investigator appointed by Commissioner Roger Goodell, this week. Incognito told his side of the story in an interview with Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer on Sunday.
First, though, Ross intends to see Martin, with whom he said he has been in touch via text message.
“I’m going to meet with Jonathan Martin face-to-face and hear what he has to say,” Ross said (via ESPN). “Then I will deal with it from there. So much has been said about a lot of different things.”
Ross announced that a five-man advisory group consisting of former NFL coaches Tony Dungy and Don Shula and former players Dan Marino, Jason Taylor and Curtis Martin would help construct that new code of conduct. “You know the world today is changing,” Ross said, “and we all have to adapt to change.”
The owner said he was shocked by the contents of voice mails and text messages that contain racial slurs, threats and profanities and would not be tolerated in most workplaces.
“I was appalled. I think anybody would be appalled,” Ross said. “When you first read that text that was reported, to me I didn’t realize people would talk, text or speak that way.”
With his team hanging on in the AFC East, Ross walks a fine line between not giving up on the season — the NFL is, after all, a business — and addressing a shocking situation by cleaning house immediately. He praised Coach Joe Philbin, with whom he said he has been in “constant communication” but scarcely mentioned General Manager Jeff Ireland, who was in Tampa but not at the briefing (via the Miami Herald’s Adam H. Beasley).
“I don’t think there is a better person, a more respected person, a more caring person in the National Football League than Joe Philbin,” Ross said. “I have the utmost confidence in Joe Philbin as our coach.”
Nor did Ross address the future of Incognito with the team. Incognito has been suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, a suspension that cannot exceed four games. He said he would “probably” meet with Incognito at some point.
Ross apologized to Dolphins fans and called the situation “a nightmare,” adding “there will not be any racial slurs, or harassing or bullying in that workplace, in that locker room and outside that locker room.”