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Report on allegations of workplace misconduct by NFL's Miami Dolphins released

11:36 AM, Feb 14, 2014   |    comments
G Richie Incognito (68) and T Jonathan Martin used to form the left side of the Dolphins' O-line.
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(USA TODAY) Embattled Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito, as well as guard John Jerry and center Mike Pouncey, "engaged in a pattern of harassment" of teammate Jonathan Martin, another unidentified young offensive lineman and a member of the team's athletic training staff, according to a 140-page report released by attorney Ted Wells' office Friday morning.

The harassment contributed to Martin's departure from the team in October, but those teammates "did not intend to drive Martin from the team or cause him lasting emotional injury, the report said.

"Moreoever, however offensive much of the conduct discussed in this Report may have been," the report read, "it appears that the Dolphins' rules of workplace behavior were not fully appreciated and, with respect to at least some of their actions, Incognito and his teammates may not have been clearly notified that they were crossing lines that would be enforced by the team with serious sanctions.

"In fact, many of the issues raised by this investigation appear to be unprecedented. We are unaware of any analogous situation in which anti-harassment policies have been applied to police how NFL teammates communicate and interact with each other."

The conclusion of the report reads: "As all must surely recognize, the NFL is not an ordinary workplace. Professional football is a rough, contact sport played by men of exceptional size, speed, strength and athleticism. But even the largest, strongest and fleetest person may be driven to despair by bullying, taunting and constant insults.

"We encourage the creation of new workplace conduct rules and guidelines that will help ensure that players respect each other as professionals and people."

Martin, 24, left the team Oct. 28 after a cafeteria prank and sought treatment for undisclosed mental health issues. Six days later, his representatives turned over evidence of alleged abuse to the Dolphins, who suspended Incognito, 30, for conduct detrimental to the team that night and asked Commissioner Roger Goodell for help with the issue.

On Nov. 6, the league hired Wells, a prominent criminal attorney, to lead an "independent" investigation of issues of workplace conduct with the Dolphins. Wells met with Martin for more than 7 hours on Nov. 15 and again Dec. 5, and with Incognito over two days Nov. 21 and 22. Wells also interviewed team officials and players at the Dolphins' facility in November.

Incognito cut a deal Nov. 21 to delay an expedited hearing for his grievance against the team and extend his suspension two weeks beyond the maximum allowed by the collective-bargaining agreement in exchange for reducing his financial loss to two game checks worth $470,588. A subsequent deal extended Incognito's suspension for the rest of the season.

The Dolphins officially ended Martin's season Nov. 30 by placing him on the non-football injury illness list but continued paying his weekly salary of $35,733. He is under contract two more years, with non-guaranteed base salaries of $824,933 in 2014 and $1,042,400 in 2015.

Incognito, who was backed by quarterback Ryan Tannehill and numerous other teammates in the aftermath of his ban, can become a free agent next month. He went on a Twitter barrage Wednesday, saying the truth would "bury" Martin and his camp.

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, told USA TODAY Sports last month the union's own investigation into the matter - led by attorney Richard Smith - was nearing completion as well but Martin refused to cooperate.

At a pre-Super Bowl media conference, DeMaurice Smith criticized the leaks in the case that continued Monday, when TheBigLead.com published more than 1,000 text messages it obtained between Incognito and Martin.

The Dolphins won five of their next seven games after Martin left the team, only to drop their last two to AFC East rivals Buffalo and the New York Jets and miss the playoffs for a fifth straight year. The team fired offensive coordinator Mike Sherman on Jan. 6 and general manager Jeff Ireland the next day, but head coach Joe Philbin remains employed.

Even before the Martin/Incognito saga began, the Dolphins needed offensive line help. In addition to Incognito, their starting tackles at the end of the season, Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie, and Jerry can become unrestricted free agents next month.

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