Indianapolis • Dolphins coach Joe Philbin is promising to change the culture inside Miami’s locker room and make it a better workplace than the one that forced Jonathan Martin to leave the team last season.
Philbin said Thursday that he wants players to treat one another with civility and he won’t tolerate anything less.
In his first public comments since Ted Wells released his report into the bullying scandal that rocked the league, Philbin made it clear he would clean things up.
We’re going to do things about it, we’re going to make it better, Philbin told reporters at the NFL scouting combine. We’re going to check underneath every stone and make it a better a workplace.
The changes have already begun.
On Wednesday night, the Dolphins fired offensive line coach Jim Turner and longtime head athletic trainer Kevin O’Neill for their roles in the scandal. While the timing seemed odd, on the eve of a six-day event where Miami and the league’s 31 other teams can interview and test draft hopefuls, Philbin said the Dolphins needed time to contemplate the report’s findings and possible punitive actions.
The Wells investigation found that guard Richie Incognito and two teammates engaged in persistent harassment of Martin, another offensive lineman and an assistant trainer. Martin left the team at midseason, and Incognito was suspended for the final eight games.
Martin has said that the persistently vulgar language made him feel trapped. Wells determined that Turner didn’t try to stop the harassment and even took part in some of the taunting of offensive lineman Andrew McDonald. The report said O’Neill expressed hostility toward the investigation and cut short an interview with those conducting it.
Philbin, who said he was unaware of the bullying when it happened, said he found the details of his players used and their actions to be inappropriate and unacceptable.
I certainly wish I had seen some of it and I could have intervened earlier, Philbin said, noting he was unaware of what had happened until early November.
What happens next is still to be determined.
Three weeks ago, team owner Stephen Ross said he did not expect Martin or Incognito to be back with the Dolphins next season.
Those decisions will likely rest with new general manager Dennis Hickey. Philbin declined to comment specifically on either player except to say Ross and Martin were expected to meet soon and that he took immediate action when he learned of the allegations against Incognito.
Martin’s agent, Kenneth Zuckerman, has said he plans to meet with the Dolphins in Indy.
We have not made any decision on anybody’s future, Philbin said.
While the report found no evidence that Philbin was aware of abusive conduct within the team, Philbin acknowledged it was ultimately his responsibility to clean things up.
I have faith in the locker room, I have in the players and I have faith in the staff, Philbin said. We know we have work to do. But again, I’m confident in the direction we’re going and we’ll make the changes that are necessary to make it a better work environment.
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