DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — The NFL Players Association will conduct its own investigation into the Miami Dolphins’ bullying scandal, a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday.
Richard Smith, outside counsel for the union in the New Orleans Saints bounty case, will investigate tackle Jonathan Martin’s allegations, the person confirmed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the union hadn’t announced its plans.
Martin has said that he was harassed daily by teammates, including guard Richie Incognito, who has been suspended.
Smith will examine the roles of coach Joe Philbin, his staff and Miami management, although it’s unknown whether they will be willing to meet with him. One issue is whether anyone on the coaching staff ordered Incognito to toughen up Martin, a second-year tackle from Stanford who became a starter as a rookie but played poorly at times.
NFL special investigator Ted Wells has been questioning players, coaches and staff at the Dolphins’ complex this week. Wells was appointed by Commissioner Roger Goodell after Dolphins owner Stephen Ross asked the league to look into the case.
Martin spent nearly seven hours with Wells on Friday in New York. Wells will also interview Incognito, who was suspended Nov. 3 and has filed a grievance against the Dolphins seeking to rejoin the team.
Incognito’s hearing on his grievance will be Thursday. He can be suspended without pay by the Dolphins for up to four weeks.
Martin abruptly left the team Oct. 28, and the case has raised questions about the team’s locker room culture. Ross formed two committees to study the matter and conceded changes are needed.
John Denney, the Dolphins’ player representative, said there’s no timeframe regarding how long Wells’ interviews with the Dolphins will last. It’s unknown whether Wells has talked yet with center Mike Pouncey, who was hospitalized last week with a gall bladder ailment, missed last week’s victory over San Diego and might be unavailable to play Sunday against Carolina.
Pouncey was feeling better but had further tests scheduled Wednesday.
The Dolphins (5-5) have won two of their three games since Martin’s departure and are in contention for an AFC wild-card berth.
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