Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin has been one of many moving targets catching flack for the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito bullying scandal. In light of recent developments, it’s probably time to back off Philbin and let this thing play out before we chuck anymore stones of blame.
Back in November of 2012, Philbin wanted Incognito released after it was discovered that he was being investigated for allegedly molesting a female volunteer at the team's golf tournament in Aventura, Fla. Questions started swirling as to why the Miami HC was still dealing with this maniac.
Philbin's response at the time was: "That incident occurred a year and a half ago. “We were made aware of the incident and we took immediate action."
He never declared what the punishment was. It certainly wasn’t the results he wanted, as Incognito played a full slate of games in 2012 and was eventually voted onto Miami's leadership counsel by his teammates in 2013. Philbin also didn’t reveal whether the NFL was alerted.
No charges were filed against Incognito following the incident at the team's golf tournament. But in a story first reported by WPLG-ABC in Miami, police reports state that the volunteer told police that Incognito "used his golf club to touch her by rubbing it up against her vagina, then up her stomach then to her chest. He then used the club to knock a pair of sunglasses off the top of her head."
Anyway you shape it, Philbin was diminished to chump status in this situation, and once this story surfaced, the public heat against Philbin picked up. His leadership was immediately questioned and some cats were calling for his head. With the latest ESPN report on Sunday asserting that Philbin didn’t want any parts of Incognito after that, but the Miami top dawns were the ones, who decided to give Incognito a reprieve, Philbin should cleared of any wrongdoing in this situation.
Even if he didn’t like Incognito’s ways, the team and Miami brass loved him for some reason and the situation in 2012 shows that Philbin—only a few months into his tenure at the time—didn’t have the power to make the necessary personnel decisions to avoid situations like this, and obviously still doesn’t.
Now we understand why the Dolphins expressed immediate and unwavering support for Philbin when they initially addressed the issue and throughout this long, investigative process. It wasn’t like he was running an in-house asylum and upper management was clueless. Apparently, getting Incognito erased from the franchise is harder than getting The Council’s OK to knock off a corrupt Mafia Don. The Dolphins still haven’t released him yet. Instead, the team is leaving open the possibility of a future return and letting Tom Wells’ investigation play out. On Saturday, the Fins reached an agreement with Incognito that will keep him on the squad past next week's deadline, according to ESPN and media reports. They have also placed Martin on the non-injury football list. He’s out for the season.
Incognito's four-game suspension for detrimental conduct, which was ending on Dec. 2, has been extended with pay until the NFL completes its investigation into the Dolphins' locker room culture and workplace environment. The agreement was reached Nov. 21; the day Incognito's grievance hearing with the league was scheduled to be held.
The agreement places a six-week cap on the length of Incognito's suspension and reduces his unpaid suspension to two games, which is roughly $470,000. He will continue with pay for weeks five and six of the suspension.
The agreement gives investigator Ted Wells a two-week deadline to get things resolved as far as suggested disciplinary action for Incognito or any other members of the Dolphins' organization. Then, a resolution concerning Incognito's Dolphins fate can be reached.
Seems like the Dolphins just don't want the Incognito saga to end. It’s clear what side the organization has chosen. It’s just messed up that the guy getting blamed for losing his locker room, was fighting with two hands tied behind his back the entire time. How can you lead when everyone knows that you don’t hold any weight? You can’t knock Philbin. He was playing the good soldier, not a wild sergeant encouraging cruel character-building methods.
If the Dolphins let Philbin rock and be the temperature-gage that only a hands-on, respected coach can be, then Incognito would have probably been released and this scar on the franchise would have never occurred. Instead, Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland and President Tom Garfinkle have to ride with Incognito for the time being. If he goes down, their decision to keep him on the squad after what he was accused of doing to that volunteer, will forever live in infamy and be recognized as one of the worst oversights in NFL history. It already adds fuel to the belief that Incognito is a racist, womanizer and overall creep.
As for Philbin, this debacle is—and always was—out of his hands.