NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith is calling a meeting with the agents of Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito to discuss how the controversy involving the Miami Dolphins’ offensive linemen is damaging both players, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.
The details of the meeting are being finalized, but Smith is determined to put one together to see if he can begin the process toward resolving the issue.
Smith has told people he wants the meeting between Martin’s agents, Zenny Zuckerman and Rick Smith, and Incognito’s agent, Dave Dunn, to occur sooner rather than later.
It’s time for us to start talking, maybe have some group sessions where guys sit down and talk about what’s going on off the field or what’s going on in the building and not mask everything. Because the [longer] it goes untreated, the worse it gets.
— Bears receiver Brandon Marshall,
on the situation involving Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito
Smith has been in touch with the players and representatives from both sides, as well as other Dolphins players, since Martin left the team last week because of emotional issues stemming from alleged harassment and misconduct.
Attorney Ted Wells has been appointed by commissioner Roger Goodell to direct an independent investigation into the Dolphins’ workplace conduct. That report will be made public.
Incognito, who was suspended Sunday by the Dolphins for conduct detrimental to the team, has been identified as making racial slurs and physical threats in a voice mail message sent in April to Martin, who is biracial.
Smith was scheduled to visit the Dolphins last Friday, according to sources. But the meeting was canceled because Dolphins coach Joe Philbin gave the team the day off following Miami’s victory Thursday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“It’s time for us to start talking, maybe have some group sessions where guys sit down and talk about what’s going on off the field or what’s going on in the building and not mask everything,” Marshall told ESPN.com. “Because the [longer] it goes untreated, the worse it gets.”
Marshall, who was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2011, suggested some “innovative” changes for football’s overall social culture.
“Unfortunately you see this kid Martin — he’s been harboring these feelings for the past two years, and now he’s at a boiling point where he has to walk out,” Marshall said. “It’s a good thing that it didn’t escalate to something more serious. But it’s time for us to take a look at some things that we can do that are proactive and start with some group sessions or group therapy or other innovative things out there.”
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who coached Martin at Stanford, limited his comments about his former player.
“As far as that situation, there’s only one thing I can intelligently comment on and that’s knowing Jonathan Martin,” Harbaugh said on Wednesday. “I know him to be a fine person and his family [too]. [Martin was a] great contributor as a student and an athlete at Stanford, epitomizes the student-athlete model and a personal friend. I support Jonathan.”
Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, who was a Stanford teammate of Martin, took exception to suggestions that Martin is “soft.”
“For anybody to say he can’t handle it is really disappointing to me and it’s disappointing that our society even has to question it. It’s pathetic to me,” Baldwin said Wednesday. “We need to look at these things logically and with common sense. What option did he have? He could have fought Incognito. He could have told on the guys involved, which we know doesn’t go over well in a football locker room, or he could have removed himself from the situation, which he did.
“I think he made the right decision. I’ve talked to [Martin]. I reached out to him just to make sure he was OK. I just wanted him to now I was here for him.”
ESPN.com Bears reporter Michael C. Wright, Seahawks reporter Terry Blount and 49ers reporter Bill Williamson contributed to this report.
- ESPN NFL Insider
- Joined ESPN in 2009
- Former president of the Pro Football Writers of America and the author of four books