This stuff happens to the New York Jets, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys. They’re the ones who you’re supposed to see on TV, hear on the radio and read on the front page.
Not the Miami Dolphins.
Not these Miami Dolphins.
This is why Jeff Ireland traded Brandon Marshall and Vontae Davis, isnt it? This is why Joe Philbin cut Chad Johnson in one of the most infamous ways to date, isn’t it?
As Philbin says, and has said since day one, this year's Miami Dolphins will be filled with “high character guys.” So for this to happen under his watch, under his leadership, under his dictatorship, is nothing short of unfathomable.
And, unfortunately, I don’t even think we’ve reached the meat of the story yet.
Every day you wake up and new, horrific tidbits filter in, like a plague that’s spreading more and more by the hour. In what began with a lunchtime prank in South Florida, has manifested into a full blown PR nightmare for the Dolphins.
Reputations are at stake. Jobs are on the line. And yet, we still have so many more questions than answers. Who knew what? When? For how long? Who said what? To who? In what context?
One minute you think you know something. You think you know who to blame, and whose side to choose.
And then, just like that, everything changes.
On Monday, Joe Philbin looked America in the eye and repeated multiple times that he absolutely did not know about the alleged bullying in his own locker room. Then, a day later, reports surfaced that Miami coaches actually told Richie Incognito to “toughen up” Jonathan Martin after missing two voluntary practices in April.
I want to believe Philbin. You want to believe Philbin. But the sad truth is, the way this story is unfolding, you can’t help but raise an eyebrow to the suddenly beleaguered head coach. And now the NFL, under the plea from owner Stephen Ross, has launched a full on investigation into the culture of the Dolphins locker room.
My God, after seeing what’s been unearthed in just a few days, imagine the skeletons Roger Goodell will find in the dark, dirty closet nestled in Dolphins headquarters.
As messy as this thing is today, I don’t even think we’ve tipped the iceberg (palm tree?) yet.
Scandals like this divide a team. Coaches get divided. Ownership gets divided. Locker rooms get divided.
In fact, it’s already started.
Players like Mike Wallace and Cameron Wake have already voiced their support for Incognito. Wallace even went as far to say that he wished Incognito "was still here."
Center Mike Pouncey, who was seen with Incognito in the TMZ video in which Incognito used racial slurs, told ESPN’s Cris Carter that no players consider him a racist. You now have these players, most, if not all, who have publicly supported Incognito, playing for a head coach who suspended him not three days ago.
All of this going on SMACK DAB in the middle of a heated playoff race in the AFC East division.
Oh yeah, you almost forgot, didn’t you? There’s still actual football to be played here, and the Miami Dolphins are coming off a season-saving win that moved them to within a half-game of the sixth and final playoff spot.
Unfortunately, for now, what happens on the field will be taking a distant back seat to what happens off the field for the Dolphins. And for a team that clearly lacks any leadership, that could be a demoralizing blow to a season that started with such optimism and such excitement.
Joe Philbin is now under a national microscope. His days could very well be numbered in South Florida.
But he’s not alone.
Other players and coaches will surely be indicted along with him, depending on what the NFL digs up. Everybody in the organization, from Stephen Ross down to the 53rd man, will be questioned and interrogated until answers are found for all those questions this disgusting ordeal has raised.
It’s funny. A week ago you would have looked at this game with the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers and said “hey, could be worse, we could be them right now.” After the week that was for the Dolphins, and the weeks that are sure to come, that doesn’t look half bad right about now, does it?
What a mess. What an ordeal. What a sad twist to a franchise that so badly wants to make national headlines for the good they do on the field.
Not the bad they do off of it.
[Standing O Sports]