Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has vowed to get to the bottom of the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal and clean up the locker room and alter the culture of the AFC East organization.
That includes the formation of two committees, including external and internal ones.
He characterized the situation as a “nightmare,” saying he's “appalled” by what he's heard on voice mails and read on texts between Incognito and Martin.
“Changes need to be made,” Ross told reporters. “We have to look at ourselves. We have to examine everything internally. I think anybody would be appalled. When you first read the texts, I didn’t realize that people would speak that way.”
oss said he plans to meet with Martin this week and has texted the offensive tackle, who has claimed Incognito bullied him and left a racially-charged voicemail on his phone. Incognito, who's indefinitely suspended, has apologized for the racial language and said that Martin left him similar text message.s.
“I’d like to hear from Jonathan Martin what happened, why he felt that way, what we did what he did and what we could have done,” Ross said. “The world is changing and we all have to adapt to change. When you can’t pick up a newspaper, watch TV without hearing about this, when things like that happen you know change is needed.”
Former Dolphins coach Don Shula, former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, former Dolphins players Dan Marino and Jason Taylor, and Hall of Fame New York Jets running back Curtis Martin will be added to an external committee.
“We’re going to make sure we’re the best organization in the NFL,” Ross said. “I apologize to fans for putting us in this position but I know we will come out as a better organization.”
““It’s where you draw the line. There will be no racial slurs or harassing or bullying in that locker room or outside that locker room.”
Ross also issued the following statement:
“We have been careful in our statements and in our comments, as we have not wanted to make a rush to judgment until we know all of the facts. We still don’t have a full picture of the facts. However, I want to be clear, that I and the Miami Dolphin organization are committed to getting to the bottom of this issue and making any necessary changes to improve our organization”
“In the past two weeks, our primary concern has been for Jonathan Martin. Immediately after learning that Jonathan left the team, I spoke with Head Coach Joe Philbin and Joe visited with Jonathan in person that evening. Over the ensuing days, both Joe and I reached out to Jonathan to express our concern and to offer our support. Jonathan and I have exchanged texts as recently as this weekend, and I am scheduled to meet with him in person to see how he is doing and to listen to his concerns.”
“As I noted last week, I reached out to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and asked him to conduct an independent review of these allegations and I am grateful that Ted Wells will be leading the effort. We have pledged our full cooperation in that endeavor.”
“In addition, last week, we began our own internal review of policies and procedures to determine if there are immediate areas which can be improved upon. I have asked President and CEO Tom Garfinkel to lead this effort. Joe Philbin is a big part of that review process. Joe is a man of high character who routinely communicates to our players our expectations of behavior and he espouses the values that we stand behind. He genuinely cares about our players—you can see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice.”
“A final step is the creation of an independent advisory group to review our current organizational conduct policies and to make recommendations on areas for improvement. I have asked former NFL Head Coaches Don Shula and Tony Dungy, along with former players Dan Marino, Curtis Martin and Jason Taylor, to be a part of this group and we will announce further additions in the coming days. Together, these men bring integrity, respect and diverse experiences to the discussion, some having just recently retired from the locker room. Joe Philbin and others will be a part of the process, as will current Dolphin players. I want to be clear: this effort is to improve the Miami Dolphins only and is not intended to be a blueprint for other franchises. The working group will begin its charge after the season.”
“The NFL locker room is a special place, no doubt, but that does not mean that different rules of decency and respect should be in play. Winning championships is what we are all about, but we cannot do so if any of our family members are challenged from reaching their potential. I want to thank the Dolphin fans and alumni for their patience as we work towards a stronger organization.”
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun.