Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ross And Committee Can Take A Cue From The NJSIAA

Near the end of Ross' statement regarding the Wells Report, he states that a new series of initiatives will be announced next week with the goal of elevating mutual respect between all athletes at all levels in all sports.

Ross says he has consulted with the NYU School of Law, the NYU Center for Sports and Society as well as the Jackie Robinson Foundation for ideas to address his concerns about conduct in sports.

Ross should be commended for this proactive approach to solve the "Bullygate" issues prior to the Wells Report even being released.

Ross further states that he has contacted other experts for their ideas as well.

Hopefully, he reached out to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association for their input.

The NJSIAA is the governing body for High School sports in New Jersey. Not only do they conduct State Tournament Championships for all sports but they also handle all sportsmanship issues regarding disqualifications and penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct and fighting.

Starting this year, the NJSIAA instituted a new policy regarding conduct of member schools, coaches and players. In essence, they took the State Anti-Bullying Law which applies to all in-school functions and extended it to all extracurricular activities that they govern.

Prior to this, Officials would report any unsportsmanlike conduct to the NJSIAA and any disqualified coaches or players would have to sit out their next two games as a penalty. Now the penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct have even more bite.

Prior to each athletic event including varsity and subvarsity teams, the head coaches and captains meet with the officials and this statement is read:

"There be no tolerance for negative statements or actions between opposing players and coaches.

This includes taunting, baiting, berating opponents, "trash talking", or actions which ridicule or cause embarrassment to them.

Any verbal, written or physical conduct related to race, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or religion shall not be tolerated, could subject the violator to ejection and may result in penalties being assessed against your team. If comments are heard a penalty will be assessed immediately.

We have been instructed not to issue any warnings. It is your responsibility to remind your team of this policy."

If any disqualified person's actions warrant it, the NJSIAA must report the violation to the State Attorney General's Office.

Ouch!!!

As a 24 year veteran of high school football officiating, I have seen how much bite this new policy has.

15 years ago, we only had ejection from the current game as a penalty so coaches and players would act up as soon as the game got out of reach.

Then the NJSIAA instituted the 2 game disqualification penalty and that cut down big time on all the bull crap.

But this new policy and its requirement of reading the warning before each game has been very effective.

I have only heard of one instance of unsportsmanlike conduct regarding anti-bullying where one player called another a "faggot" and that player was ejected immediately and reported to the NJSIAA.

Whether the NJSIAA forwarded that player's name to the State Attorney General's Office, I do not know.

But with the threat of police action and those consequences of being arrested included, having only one instance that I have heard of is truly amazing.

I think that is were the new player, coach conduct policies need to go. The NFL will assign a compliance officer to each team's locker rooms and practice facilities to report directly to the commissioner's office.

Break these new rules and you are then reported immediately to your State Attorney General's Office.

Nobody will say or do anything after that. Who needs that on their record.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971
Carldleone@aol.com

Friday, February 14, 2014

"Bullygate" Is Far From Over

If you thought the Wells Report was the end of this fiasco, don't hold your breath.

You will be turning blue before you know it.

This Franchise Nightmare could just be getting started.

Those screams your family will hear in the middle of the night come September will be your own.

Your wife or significant other will wake up black and blue from all those elbows you'll be throwing while tossing and turning.

Count on it!!!

After reading the report, we can assume Roger Goodell will come to the same conclusions.

Pouncey, Incognito and Jerry will be suspended for their part in the Assistant Trainer hazzings. Incognito and Jerry may not matter to us, but Pouncey does.

Jim Turner will get fined and may get fired as well.

We can kiss Pouncey goodbye for September, he will be sitting out 3 games minimum.

These guys are supposed to be adults but they acted like immature teenagers.

Why they would pick on the Assistant Trainer is beyond me.

Then to carry on with another O Lineman, identified as Player A, is assinine.

These guys were like a pack of wild dogs picking on anyone and almost everyone.

Somebody is gonna pay for this. And guess who?

Dolfans across the country.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971
Carldleone@aol.com


FINALLY!! This stupid "report" has been released!!...

OK, so the deed is done, finished, finito, complete, OVER!!! Thank the gods above!! I just wanted to share a few quick thoughts on what I have read of the report. OK, so O-Line coach Jim Turner gave out "stocking stuffers" to his line which included blow up dolls of the female anatomy but one particular player was given a male one as a joke. This is a huge deal because this can get Jim Turner fired, which I believe he should, not for the "joke", but becuase I believe he is a lousy coach. Here is my question, if you watch the HBO special "Hard Knocks" you know that the language some coaches use during training camp is not suitable for children, one instance I believe our former offensive coordinator, Mike Sherman said, "pick it up you little pansy ass! If it was up to be i'd cut you right now". OK, lets examine this for a second. "pansy ass" is obviously referring to that player as a weakling, or as many people take it, including myself, it is a reference to being "homosexual", now, why wasnt that a big deal? Why is it not a big deal for any other coach, player, or person? The entire report in my opinion railroaded Incognito. Did he use bad language? YES. Did he say inappropriate things? YES. Is he most likely a horrible individual? YES. But a few things stand out to me, Jonathon Martin joined in the behavior! Text messages prove it! Why does he come out smelling so rosey in this situation!?? One thing can be said for Incognito that Martin can NEVER, EVER, EVER, claim was not true, Richie Incognito on his worst day is 100 times a better offensive lineman than Jonathon Martin. PERIOD!! I am not supporting Incognito's actions but lets be honest, he was one hell of a lineman. Any of you who have played football at the high school level or above know that there are some things that go on in a locker room that you dont wanna share with your parents. Does it make it OK? NO. But I believe Martin has some serious mental issues that he needs to be examined, diagnosed, & treated for because the crime does not fit the punishment here. This nonsense went in many directions and Martin was a part of it. You have to be a special person to play football and even more so to deal with a locker room, Martin is just not that guy. I cant even count how many times I have heard between friends how hot someone's sister was or that their mom was a MILF and many more things I wont post here, etc etc etc. The point is that it is just joking and humor between friends. Just ridiculousness from Martin, complete ridiculousness. I hope someone picks up Incognito on a short 2 year deal. I think he is a good player. Martin on the other hand, I hope teams run from him like the plague or at the very least let New England pick him up so we can feast on Tom Brady next season because we all know you will miss the broad side of a barn when the ball is snapped...

That's a wrap on the bullying scandal...or is it?

editors note: You can expect that this post has a bit of a negative tone to it. But, how can it not?

The incident happened in October, and now, 4 months later, the report has finally been released.  Really, there were only a few possible outcomes: it was nothing, it was really bad (and systemic), or it was a "slap on the wrist" for a few people because they made some errors in judgement or whatever.

But *why* did it take so long?  In part, I believe its because Steve Ross is asking you to trust him.  You, the fan, have invested in this team with your time and energy...and more importantly with your wallet.  He can't afford for you to think he didn't do everything possible to try and make this right.  By delaying, he's hoping you'll accept it as the end, and will move on and support the team (financially, of course).

And with that, the absurdity of the bully scandal finally comes to a close.  Well, kind of, anyway.

Was it worth it to Mr. Ross?  No doubt this investigation cost north of half a million dollars.  The independent investigator charges over $1,000 per hour, and with this lasting over 4 months, and him travelling cross country a few times, the meter was definitely running.  Plus his staff, and assorted "miscellaneous costs" ....and this all gets billed back to Mr. Ross.  And then there's the cost of paying his "committee," (more on that in a moment) the NFLPA's own investigation, and the cost of not paying salaries for these two guys.

All told, this incident cost Mr. Ross several million dollars, out of his pocket Was a couple of million a trade off for your trust?  Do you believe he handled it right?

It seems to me that an involved owner could have avoided most of this nonsense - which happened after the initial confrontation and Martin leaving - by suspending both players (with pay),  and immediately firing the GM and line coach simply because *they* brought embarrassment on his franchise.  The GM because it was his organization to run  Ireland was left in charge of the football side, and this blew up - whether he was involved or not is irrelevant; its on him to keep this stuff from getting the big boss involved.  He handled that poorly, so he should have been shown the door at that moment!

The offensive line coach should have been terminated, because these are players under his direct supervision.

The incident should have also put the head coach on a short leash, and essentially should have been told that if the team makes the playoffs, he'll consider whether to keep him (based on what he finds), but if he doesn't the door awaits.  It might have cleared up a lot of this, and kept it from lingering...  He could have brought in his own investigator, talked with the NFLPA, and simply told everyone that this was being handled "in house"....later he could have reinstated or released Incognito, and if necessary put Martin a non-football injury list or released him for quitting the team.

Instead HE chose to bring more embarrassment to his own team....and he wants the fans to trust him?  Right....you can't regain what you never had, sir. 

Now to the end game.
  • 148 pages of a report that clearly call out Martin as the victim, and Incognito and Pouncey as the aggressors.
  •  Philbin and the front office didn't know? What an imbecile the coach must be if he didn't know what was happening in his locker room.  I lost whatever (little) respect I had for him on that comment. And so should players and fans. 
  • Among the exchanges were a number that included references to drug use. The report notes "Although we uncovered information relating to alleged drug use in this investigation, further inquiries into these matters are beyond the scope of our mandate, and the determination of any consequences for such activities is left to the league."  One would hope the NFL takes that very seriously.
Read the report here: http://www.nfldolphinsreport.com/

No suggestions on what to do, but it seems clear that Incognito probably will be essentially blackballed.  The truth did not set him free.  And Pouncey should also face disciplinary action. The O-line coach should also be terminated for his involvement in this.

So what will Ross do?  My guess is....nothing.  Hey trust him!  Its all fixed now.  It was errors in judgement by some, so its over!

As for the waiting game, it really served no purpose other than to bill more, but it allowed for so many other things to happen.

The interview Martin did with Tony Dungy was dumb on many fronts.  Not the least of which was that Dungy had a stake in this - he was on the "committee" that Ross formed to look into the issue.  How  ridiculous that someone tasked with cleaning up the image gets a chance to present one side of the issue.

And then Ingonito decides to respond by sharing the text messages at the center of the firestorm...ay....I don't care about the content - any more than I care about what any of you have to say to your friends, or sexting your girlfriend (oh wait on second thought, let me see those! ha!).  It proved nothing - and made this silliness even sillier.  And then he rants on, on twitter.  What a meathead.

And that meant the public bickering got underway between these guys, and I have to agree with Brian (over at the Phinphatic) when he suggested this is the precursor to litigation.  No doubt that's on the docket for the future.  And anyone else who feels defamed will probably sue, as well.

And as for the committee, what a sham. A joke.  Mr. Ross once again pulled a fast one on all of us!  He purportedly formed two, the most prominent of which included Dungy and Marino.  But the truth is that the committees did essentially nothing, and there's no indication they even met or visited the team facility. In other words it was another effort to gain our trust, or maybe reassure himself.  Its just another attempt to make us feel good.  It proves once again that the owner is clueless.

And then....Chris Mortensen tweeted "Tony Dungy received a somewhat confrontational phone call this wk from Joe Philbin who felt Dungy had blamed him for Martin/Incognito fiasco."  And "Dungy explained to Philbin it was not his intent & merely was stressing importance of having strong locker room leaders like Derrick Brooks"

He gets fired up about this?  Seriously?  What a tool.  He's not cut out to be a head coach.

Goodell said he wants 'respect' and to clean up the image, and perhaps have some regular reviews of the goings on.  I can only suppose the media will call it "the Dolphins rule" to ensure that its always connected to Miami.  And frankly the Dolphins deserve to have this stigma tied to them in perpetuity.

You can hope and wish the focus will return to football, but it won't.  Not as long  Ross is still here associated with this team.

And for that matter, Philbin.  They won't win jack with him as the coach...

And piling on....WHEN (its not an if...) they underperform next season, and wind up oh-so-close, everyone will reflect back to the end of 2013, and wonder why tough choices weren't made at that time.  Why did the owner keep Philbin or not get a GM who had some authority?  Oops. What a laughing stock.

Don't for a moment think this team is held in higher regard than any of the other 31 teams.  At least the Browns, for all their faults, are trying to get better.  This owner in Miami has no idea what success in football means.  And for all I can tell, doesn't seem to care.
 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bullying scandal & Michael Sam

In light of Sam coming out this week, and the NFL awaiting the bullying scandal outcome, I think its safe to say that changes *will be* coming to the locker room. Certainly the time is right.

Don't hand me the crap about it being a place where men can be men...that ship has sailed, and we're in a different place where teams and players will have to adjust their style.

It's on the NFL and the teams to provide a reasonable work environment, which is safe and comfortable to all who inhabit it.... and the stereotypical macho locker room isn't it.  Yeah, they can still have fun and trash talk, but sexist talk, homophobia, and slurs like that have no place -  I have to believe this will become a corporate workplace just like the ones we inhabit (though I'm sure a little more leeway will be given). 

With the announcement and the impending report, The NFL just changed yet again - the scandal was simply the "tip of the iceberg."