NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Miami Dolphins lineman Jonathan Martin has met with the NFL counsel investigating the team’s bullying scandal.
On Friday, Martin and a companion arrived at lawyer Ted Wells’ Manhattan office building and later, he addressed a throng of reporters outside.
“I do not intend this discuss this matter publicly,” Martin said. “This is the right way to handle the situation.”
He then turned around and went back into the office.
The league is trying to gather information about the harassment Martin says he was subjected to by teammate Richie Incognito.
Some six hours after the arrival, the gathering of media had grown to more than 30, and the meeting was still ongoing. And since the office is in a tourist part of town, there were several passers-by and day-trippers who stopped to wait for a glimpse, as well. Even hop-hop artist Rick Ross walked across the street and stood with reporters, waiting for Martin.
Incognito has been suspended by the Dolphins. He filed a grievance Thursday against the team over his suspension, and has said his conduct was part of the normal locker-room environment.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross also plans to meet with Martin. On Monday, he said two committees would examine the locker-room culture. Players have been virtually unanimous in saying it doesn’t need to be changed.
At practice on Friday in Miami, long snapper John Denney, the team’s players’ union representative, was asked about locker room problems.
“I can’t say I saw it firsthand because I’m not an offensive lineman, and I’m not in their offensive line room. I can tell you from my perspective, and having been in this locker room, I never saw it coming,” he said. “I can say that. It was a surprise to me. There did not seem to be an increase in behavioral problems. It’s been the same here my entire career.”
Coach Joe Philbin also talked to reporters but did not go into detail about Friday’s meeting.
“I believe in the guys we have in the locker room,” he said. “I believed in them before this all took place, before all this scrutiny came upon us.
“And I believe in them today.”
Martin alleges he was harassed daily by teammates, including Incognito, and the case has raised questions about job security for Philbin, his assistants and general manager Jeff Ireland.
Philbin won a vote of confidence this week from Stephen Ross, but that could change depending on the findings of Wells, the NFL special investigator who was brought into the situation last week.
Wells will determine the role of Philbin, his staff and Miami management in the case, and his report will be made public. One issue is whether anyone on the coaching staff ordered Incognito to toughen up Martin, a second-year tackle from Stanford who became a starter as a rookie but played poorly at times.
Stephen Ross’ meeting with Martin was originally scheduled for this week, but at the NFL’s request, it was postponed until after Wells met with him.
The second-year pro suddenly left the team two weeks ago and has been with family in California undergoing counseling for emotional issues.
Center Mike Pouncey missed practice Friday because of an illness and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at San Diego, raising the possibility the Dolphins will be without a third starting offensive lineman.
Incognito’s grievance was a talking point in the locker room on Friday.
“He’s got to do what he’s got to do. I’m never going to tell somebody how to run their life,” wide receiver Mike Wallace said. “You got to get your money, man. I don’t really have too much to say about it.”
The case inspired a national debate about workplace bullying and attracted a daily throng of 100 media members or more at the Dolphins complex.
Incognito has acknowledged leaving a voicemail for Martin in April in which he used a racist term, threatened to kill his teammate and threatened to slap Martin’s mother.
Incognito has said he regrets racist and profane language he used with Martin, but said it stemmed from a culture of locker-room “brotherhood,” not bullying.
Incognito is white and Martin is black. Teammates both black and white have said Incognito is not a racist, and they’ve been more supportive of the veteran guard than they have of Martin, who has not spoken publicly about the case.
The Dolphins (4-5) have slumped after a 3-0 start, and on Sunday they play at home for the first time since the scandal broke.
“All we have to do,” defensive end Cameron Wake said, “is concentrate on playing the game on Sunday.”
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