DAVIE, Fla. — NFL investigators returned to the Miami Dolphins practice facility on Tuesday to continue questioning players and staff about the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin scandal and other workplace issues.
Primary investigator Ted Wells opened the interviews Monday and players were told all should expect to meet with the NFL’s independent team regarding allegations of player misconduct.
Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said it’s his understanding all players would have to be interviewed.
“They say everybody should have to talk,” he said.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill said “I think everybody is going to be interviewed.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said he’s scheduled to be interviewed Tuesday. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said it’s his understanding investigators will try not to disrupt scheduled team meetings. Players are typically off on Tuesdays around the NFL, but the Dolphins adjusted their schedule this season to make Thursday the team-wide day of rest.
In another development, the National Football Post reported Tuesday that, according to two sources, “Incognito and at least one other player mocked the ethnic background of a team staff member and made crude jokes about the staff member’s wife.”
The article said “Incognito would sometimes dress in garb from the staff member’s culture and then make profane jokes about that culture.” A second source said that at least one other player joined in on the antics.
The National Football Post went on to report “the behavior was done in view of other team staff members and was allowed to go on without being curtailed by team management or front-office staff.”
A Dolphins spokesman did not immediately respond to a request from the National Football Post for comment.
Meanwhile, players and coaches still maintain nothing related to the Incognito-Martin episode has been a distraction, but the Dolphins have reportedly requested a delay in the hearing of Incognito’s grievance.
Through it all, the coaches are pushing players to keep a narrow focus on the next game. This week, that means dealing with a Carolina Panthers team on a six-game winning streak following Monday’s victory over the AFC East-leading New England Patriots.
“I think we’ve done a fairly good job of trying to just stay focused on the task at hand as coaches and not allow it to impact the way we’ve prepared,” Coyle said.
Head coach Joe Philbin, who rarely volunteers any information, barely acknowledges his team’s playoff chances. It’s part of his “one game at a time” mantra.
But the Dolphins (5-5) are narrowly behind the New York Jets (5-5) for the sixth and final playoff berth in the jam-packed AFC playoff picture entering Week 12.
“We’re really focused on (Carolina) … We’ve got to take care of business,” Philbin said. “We’ve got a very good team (coming into town), we’re playing at home, so we’re going to be focused on that.”
Wells said Monday as interviews began that he was looking forward to meeting “Dolphins players, coaches and staff in order to get the facts and prepare a thorough and fair report.”
Center Mike Pouncey and offensive line coach Jim Turner are of particular interest — by proxy and privileged access to the players on either side of the saga. Turner was the direct workplace supervisor to both players and Pouncey, though not known to be intimately involved in hazing accusations, has started his entire career alongside Incognito as a center-guard tandem and was part of position group meetings and outings.
Wells said there is not timetable for completion of the investigation.
He met with Martin last week in New York for more than seven hours, and Martin said he was open and honest about his situation.