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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

Although current members of the Dolphins had little response Friday to the NFL's 144-page report detailing issues in their locker room, former Miami players expressed reaction ranging from shock to ridicule.

Keith Sims, who played guard for the Dolphins from 1990-97, said he was stunned.

"I just got off the phone with my buddy and I asked him, 'Do you remember any of this (junk) going on when we played?' We agreed, our memories are the same. Of course, there was always a little harassment, a little fun hazing, but nothing out of hand and nothing abusive that got to this level."

The NFL's independent report by attorney Ted Wells, launched after offensive tackle Jonathan Martin left the club and accused teammates of harassment, found that Martin and other players -- including reserve offensive lineman Nate Garner, former offensive lineman Josh Samuda, an unnamed former offensive lineman and an assistant trainer -- were regularly ridiculed.

But the report found that the harassment was mainly verbal. That left some former Dolphins unimpressed.

"I thought (we) would have found out that Martin was bound, gagged and had his nipples pierced or something," former Dolphins cornerback Pat Surtain wrote on Twitter.

The report said offensive linemen Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey and John Jerry were the main perpetrators.

"Damn Incognito bullied the trainer too," Surtain jokingly wrote. "All of this attention paid to this story and this is all Ted Wells can come up with. SMH (shaking my head)."

Former Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder, on his radio show on WQAM, said: "Jonathan Martin, I honestly don't feel bad for him at all. This is his line of work. He's in the NFL and that's what you signed up for."

Troy Stradford, a former Dolphins running back and the NFL's 1987 Offensive Rookie of the Year, sympathized with Martin.

"For some guys, it may not have bothered them, but for Jonathan Martin it bothered him," Stradford said. "Because we have laws to protect people in the work force, he absolutely has a case."

The report found that coach Joe Philbin was not aware of the harassment. Sims, Crowder and Stradford all agreed that he shouldn't lose his job.

"The coach Philbin that I know, he would have quashed it if he knew about it and the report clearly states that he did not know," Sims said.

The future of offensive line coach Jim Turner is less certain. The report found he participated with players in making fun of homosexuals.

And days after Martin left the team, Turner sent him text messages trying to persuade him to return and to support Incognito. The report said Turner questioned Martin's character despite knowing he had just been in a mental hospital.

Stradford, who played football with Turner at Boston College, said "from a PR standpoint" the Dolphins might decide to fire Turner, but he said he believes the team should keep him.

"I think coach Turner was just trying to get Jonathan Martin to get ready to play football," Stradford said. "His choice of actions were obviously wrong with what has come out. But I really don't think coaches or players are out to harm other players or coaches."

While Sims said Martin "will definitely play again," but not with the Dolphins, Stradford believes Martin has a tougher road to an NFL return than Incognito.

"Players will have to be very careful around Jonathan Martin," Stradford said. "If a GM brings him in, players will have no choice. But I would think two, three, four, five times before I'd bring Jonathan Martin to my football team."

Martin, 24, is still under contract, but the Dolphins would suffer a salary-cap hit of less than $1 million next season if they released him. Incognito, 31, is an unrestricted free agent.

For the Dolphins, the biggest question could be whether Pouncey faces a suspension.

 

February 15, 2014

 

 
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