The NFL’s special investigator looking into the Miami Dolphins’ harassment case started questioning players at the team’s complex Monday.
As New York attorney Ted Wells began a visit expected to last two or three days, he released a statement in his first public comments about the investigation.
”We look forward to meeting with Dolphins players, coaches and staff in order to get the facts and prepare a thorough and fair report,” Wells said. ”The Dolphins organization has been very helpful in arranging the interviews and urging their personnel to cooperate with the investigation. We have asked all Dolphins personnel to respect the process and avoid commenting on the investigation.”
Tackle Jonathan Martin left the team three weeks ago and alleges he was harassed daily by teammates, including guard Richie Incognito, who has been suspended. Martin spent nearly seven hours with Wells on Friday in New York.
Wells was appointed Nov. 6 by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to investigate possible misconduct in the Dolphins’ workplace and prepare a report that will be made public.
”As we’ve said from Day One, we’re going to fully cooperate,” coach Joe Philbin said.
Wells’ visit ensures further distractions for a team trying to keep its season from derailing. The Dolphins (5-5) beat San Diego 20-16 Sunday to remain in the race for an AFC wild-card berth.
Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said he was among those scheduled to talk Tuesday with Wells, after players had been interviewed.
”Hopefully most of what the players have to do will be taken care of today,” Sherman said.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said he didn’t expect the NFL investigation to significantly affect preparations for Sunday’s home game against Carolina.
”We’ve been told they’re going to do everything they can to not disrupt the normal flow of the week,” Coyle said. ”I don’t think it’s going to have much of an impact.”
”We’re sticking to the schedule,” he said. ”We’ll be fine.”
Martin, a second-year pro, suddenly left the team Oct. 28 and has been with family in California undergoing counseling for emotional issues. Martin, who played at Stanford, attended the Cardinal’s game Saturday at Southern California and watched from the sideline.
Incognito filed a grievance last week against the Dolphins seeking to rejoin the team.
The case struck a national nerve on the issue of locker-room bullying and has even gone global. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana offered a reaction Monday from the Great Wall of China, where he was on a tour to promote football.
Montana said bullying was common in the NFL, and said the locker room is a ”fun, crazy place,” but added, ”It’s a tough place, too, sometimes.”