Harassment investigation has Dolphins on edge - NBC Sports

Harassment investigation has Dolphins on edge
APWF
Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin gestures during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
November 19, 2013, 6:05 pm

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) A visit by an NFL special investigator is enough to make even a 6-foot-8, 360-pound tackle quake.

Bryant McKinnie, a 12th-year pro, was among the Miami Dolphins still waiting Tuesday to be interviewed by New York attorney Ted Wells and his staff in the bullying scandal surrounding the team.

"You know they're here, and they don't often come to people's facilities," McKinnie said. "You get a little nervous, I guess."

McKinnie said he talked to one offensive lineman who had already been interrogated.

"I said, `Do you do feel like you're on `The First 48'?" McKinnie said with a laugh, referring to the TV series about homicide investigators.

The answer: Yes.

Wells was at the Dolphins complex for a second consecutive day to interview players, coaches and staff about tackle Jonathan Martin's allegations of daily harassment by teammates, including guard Richie Incognito.

Several players said they had yet to be questioned.

"I'm not looking forward to it," linebacker Philip Wheeler said. "I don't think any of us are looking forward to it."

Defensive lineman Jared Odrick said he, too, was still waiting to be summoned.

"No principal, no assistant principal, no guidance counselors, nothing," he said.

Coach Joe Philbin declined to discuss the investigation with the media. It was unknown whether Wells planned to talk to every player, or how long he might be in town.

"There's no timeframe," said long snapper John Denney, the team's player representative. "They're going to be here as long as they need to make sure they're given a fair assessment."

McKinnie said he thought Wells was focused on interviewing offensive linemen. It was unknown whether Wells had talked with center Mike Pouncey, who was hospitalized last week with a gall bladder ailment, missed Sunday's victory over San Diego and might be unavailable to play this week.

Several players expressed support for offensive line coach Jim Turner, a former Marine whose role in the case is likely to receive a thorough review from Wells.

"He's a great coach, the best o-line coach I've had in my life," sixth-year pro Nate Garner said. "I love him. I wouldn't want to play for anyone else."

Martin spent nearly seven hours with Wells on Friday in New York. Wells will also interview Incognito, who was suspended Nov. 3 and has filed a grievance against the Dolphins seeking to rejoin the team.

None of the Dolphins complained that the investigator's presence was a distraction, even with the team scrambling to stay in the AFC wild-card race and preparing for a game Sunday against Carolina.

"`For us to be here as professional athletes and make it to this point, we had to fight through some type of adversity," Odrick said. "Having distractions in our life, it's something you accept and deal with every day. This is just - throw it on the pile."

Receiver Mike Wallace said he hadn't been questioned but didn't think the interviews were lasting long enough to be disruptive.

"Ten minutes, 15 minutes of each person's time - for a big situation like this, I don't think it's too much," Wallace said. "I don't think it's like one guy getting interviewed for two hours. Ten minutes won't hurt anybody. Get it over with, put it behind us and hopefully we won't have to come back to it again."

Players were unanimous in wanting to get past the scandal, which began to unfold when Martin abruptly left the team Oct. 28. The case raised questions about the team's locker room culture, and the roles of Philbin, his staff and management.

"I'm so sick of hearing about this," Wallace said. "It's not draining, but it's just the same stuff over and over."

"It's exaggerated a little bit - the extent of what actually takes place in here," McKinnie said as he sat at his locker. "I think people think it's some kind of zoo. That's not what it really is. It's blown up worse than the situation really is as far as how our locker room is."

Even so, with the special investigator in the building, McKinnie said he has tempered his behavior.

"That's the sad part about it," McKinnie said with a chuckle. "You're not going to be able to cuss in here."

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