Under Further Review

Like a seasoned NFL referee, spend some time under the hood reading and reviewing the Wells report. The evidence you will find is indisputable. Dolphin guard Richie Incognito is guilty of verbally abusing teammate Jonathan Martin and should be harshly punished by league commissioner Roger Godell. It is also fully conclusive that former Dolphin player John Jerry and current Dolphin All-Pro Center Mike Pouncey deserve a similar fate.

To place a major focus of the report on Incognito and allow Jerry and Pouncey to become footnotes in the story would be a mistake. After all, one could challenge Jerry was the main instigator in the Martin fall out due to initiating the course of action back in 2012. The Wells report clearly states Martin identified the onset of verbal harassment to around the first game of the 2012 season when according to Martin, Jerry repeatedly called him a “bitch”  in a disrespectful and demeaning tone and dared Martin to “say something back”. When Martin did nothing, the insults escalated. Prior to this episode with Jerry, Martin indicated to Wells a positive and healthy relationship with Incognito.

The report offers numerous instances of Incognito’s, Jerry’s and Pouncey’s vile and abusive behaviors. Often Martin’s sister was the subject of the trio’s disgusting and demeaning comments aimed to rattle Martin. However, Martin indicated it was Jerry who was the worst offender with respect to his sister, saying his comments were incessant. Martin also claimed that Jerry frequently made these insults in front of teammates, including in the shower and team cafeteria, in a calculated effort to embarrass him. In another account, Martin said that Pouncey physically restrained an un-named Dolphin lineman and, in full view of players, told Jerry to “come get some” and that Jerry responded by touching the lineman in a way that simulated a sexual act.

While you consider what penalties the three players should incur, what responsibility lies with the coaches? The Wells report accurately points out players cannot regulate players. Coaches must regulate players.

There is no way offensive line coach Jim Turner remains on staff. He gifted most of his offensive linemen plastic female blow-up dolls prior to Christmas 2012 and gave one lineman a male doll because he recognized other linemen taunted that player about being gay.

The report claims that Turner either heard or witnessed some harassment of Martin by Jerry, Incognito and Pouncey and did nothing, in fact, even laughed about it. Former offensive line assistant Chris Mosley also heard and was aware of some abuse and admitted as much. According to Mosely, it was Turner who introduced the idea of a “Judas fine” to the offensive linemen, explaining how the biblical Judas had betrayed Jesus Christ and so became a “snitch”. Turner either denied or didn’t remember such incidents of abuse or knowledge of the Judas fine, prompting Wells to question Turner’s truthfulness.

And what about Philbin? A majority of what was happening occurred in the Dolphins’ locker room, showers, practice field and cafeteria under what was supposed to be his watch. He was apparently unaware his coaches knew of any abuse or Turner preaching the Judas system. The reality is he never won the trust of his players and staff in the organization, as they were more afraid of breaking trust with Turner and others.

Philbin asked Turner if reports of harassment were accurate and was assured the reports were unfounded. Philbin noted he advised Turner that such conduct “better not be happening.” And yet when it came to light that such things were happening right under Philbin’s nose, and after the Dolphins suspended Incognito, the coach took no action to hold Turner accountable.

Consider Philbin’s comments about Turner just three weeks after the team suspended Incognito. “I think he did a great job,” Philbin said. “I think his players believe in him. I think he works very hard every single day, and he’s done a good job.”

With all the red flags, it would be difficult to challenge Dolphin owner Stephen Ross if he ultimately decides to part ways with Philbin and start anew. As for NFL Commissioner Godell, one thing is certain. He will eventually rule, and that ruling will stand.

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Nemanja Vidic after effect, is anyone really surprised?

One may have been surprised this week when Manchester United posted a statement issued by current United captain Nemanja Vidic on their club website declaring he would leave the club following this year’s Premier League season.

Vidic. “I have decided that I will move on at the end of this season. I want to challenge myself again and try to make the best of myself in the coming years. I am now going to focus all my efforts on playing for Manchester United and do the best I can for the team until the end of the season. I hope this stops any further speculation about my future.”Image

While this announcement served Vidic well, it did nothing positive for the club other than answer speculation raised by reporters and fans concerning Vidic’s future. What may also seem surprising was manager David Moyes response to Vidic’s statement, saying the decision was “mutually decided”. After all, it was Moyes who recently stated the club’s desire to resign their captain.

What is troubling is the message David Moyes sent to his current players. One can only imagine the thoughts going through their minds reading that current team captain Vidic and skipper Moyes decided to part ways at seasons end because their captain needs a new “challenge”. Moyes quickly made the decision to endorse Vidic as the captain fully expecting Vidic to remain a “great leader” and “serve the club really well” right up until the end. This is where Moyes expectations and decision are suspect. It is difficult to rationalize that a “great leader” would put his personal needs above leading the club through its current challenge.

It should come as little surprise that in United’s first game since Vidic’s announcement that the captain checked out mentally  Sure, it’s easy to blame Darren Fletcher for failing to track Steven Sidwell’s run into the box as the primary mistake leading to Fulham’s first half goal. But it must be asked what Vidic was doing chasing a decoy runner off the ball and leaving a huge gap in a dangerous position right in the center of the back line. At the very least, organize through communication. The equalizer was far worse. A nonchalant Vidic head ball to the unprotected side of Michael Carrick in the final minute of stoppage time created a domino effect of disastrous mistakes. None worse than Vidic inexplicably leaving Fulham forward Darren Bent to go both ball chasing and ball watching as Kieran Richardson unleashed a shot initially saved by GK David DeGea but easily nodded home by an unmarked Bent as the helpless Vidic tried in vain to recover.

And so United’s season of surprise and disappointment continues.

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