NFL investigator talking to Dolphins players
Miami Dolphins players began meeting Monday with the NFL special investigator looking into the harassment case involving tackle Jonathan Martin and guard Richie Incognito.
The visit by attorney Ted Wells might last several days. That means further distractions for a team trying to keep its season from derailing.
Wells said in a statement Monday that the Dolphins have been cooperating with his investigation.
"We look forward to meeting with Dolphins players, coaches and staff in order to get the facts and prepare a thorough and fair report. The Dolphins organization has been very helpful in arranging the interviews and urging their personnel to cooperate with the investigation. We have asked all Dolphins personnel to respect the process and avoid commenting on the investigation," the statement said.
Sources told ESPN Senior NFL Insider Chris Mortensen that the NFL Players Association still wants a full scope of Wells' investigation and interview schedule. Additionally, if members of the Dolphins' front office staff were either victims or perpetrators to a "toxic" workplace environment, it also wants access to those conversations and facts. The league is not inclined to share that information until Wells' investigation is complete.
On Monday, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said he is scheduled to speak with Wells on Tuesday.
"Hopefully, most of what the players have to do will be taken care of [Monday] and get that knocked out," he said. "I'm hopeful that's happening but I'm not really sure."
Dolphins offensive line coach Jim Turner is a person of interest in the NFL's investigation, sources have told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Turner is said to be beloved by many players but also is known for using loud, insulting and profane language with them. The NFL is aware of Turner's tactics, which are not unusual for coaches around the league, and wants to speak to him about the culture that existed around Miami's offensive line, sources told ESPN.
The visit by Wells will come as the Dolphins (5-5) prepare to play host to the Carolina Panthers in Week 12. Miami beat the San Diego Chargers 20-16 on Sunday to remain in the race for an AFC wild-card berth and cap an eventful week.
"We got talked to about the interview process we are about to go through," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said Sunday. "We are going to do our interviews, be participants in the investigation and get ready for the game. At the end of the day, [the interview] is secondary. We have to do it. We have to provide the information we know, but hopefully that is a short, 15-minute interview. And then the rest of the week is all football."
Some interviews are likely to take longer. Martin spent nearly seven hours talking with Wells on Friday in New York about his claims of harassment by teammates, including Incognito.
Tannehill said he believes everyone on the team will be interviewed.
"Honestly, we've been told that they're going to do everything they can to not disrupt the normal flow of the week," defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said Monday. "So how that all comes together, I'm not exactly sure. I'm not involved with that organization in terms of the structure. I don't think it's going to have much of an impact."
Martin, a second-year pro, abruptly left the team three weeks ago and has been undergoing counseling for emotional issues. Incognito was suspended indefinitely and filed a grievance last week against the Dolphins seeking to rejoin the team.
Incognito's non-football injury grievance hearing is set for Thursday as he seeks reinstatement and lost wages, several sources confirmed to ESPN. However, sources have also told ESPN that the Dolphins have requested a delay while the franchise cooperates with an independent investigation on alleged violations that led to his suspension
Incognito will be represented by outside counsel, Mark Schamel, but the NFLPA will also have a presence at the hearing.
Incognito was suspended by the Dolphins late Nov. 3 for conduct detrimental to the team, which has a four-week maximum penalty, in addition to one extra game check. For Incognito, that would mean lost wages of $1.176 million. The Dolphins have until Dec. 2 to restore Incognito to the active roster or waive him.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has formed two committees to study the team's locker-room culture and acknowledges that changes are needed. Wells will determine the role of coach Joe Philbin, his staff and Miami management in the case, and his report will be made public.
ESPN.com Dolphins reporter James Walker and Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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