Beyond Brady – By Rob Hamilton SEPT. 4 2015 3:48 PM

 Tom Brady after the 2015 AFC championship game, site of Deflategate, Jan. 18, 2015. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Tom Brady after the 2015 AFC championship game, site of Deflategate, Jan. 18, 2015.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

When Judge Richard Berman vacated Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his alleged role in Deflategate, Berman not only handed the NFL a high-profile legal defeat, but he established the courthouse as the most viable option for players hoping to challenge the league’s policies. It’s a sign that the league must reform or face major—and embarrassing—ramifications for its disciplinary actions.

When allegations arose that the Patriots had illegally deflated game balls in the AFC championship game, the NFL hired Ted Wells to conduct an independent investigation. The resulting Wells Report concluded that it was “more probable than not” that Tom Brady “was at least generally aware” of the ball-deflation scheme, prompting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to suspend Brady for four games. Brady appealed the punishment, and the matter went to arbitration. Goodell, serving as arbitrator, upheld the suspension and proclaimed that Brady “knew about, approved of, consented to, and provided inducements and rewards in support of” the deflation scheme.

The league’s response to Deflategate was reminiscent of its response to the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal in 2013. Allegations arose that Dolphins players had bullied offensive lineman Jonathan Martin to the point of a breakdown. (Martin briefly checked himself into the hospital before leaving the team.) The league commissioned an independent investigation, also headed by Wells, which produced a 144-page report detailing the torment heaped upon Martin by his teammates. It vilified lineman Richie Incognito, who would not find work in 2014, and led to the firing of offensive line coach Jim Turner. The report served as some rare good publicity for the commissioner’s office.

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NFL finds Miami Dolphins players bullied teammate Jonathan Martin 14 February 2014 Last updated at 14:37 ET

Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito (left) and tackle Jonathan Martin on the field on 24 July 2013

Miami Dolphins player Richie Incognito (left) and his alleged victim, Jonathan Martin

The US National Football League has determined a Miami Dolphins player was racially and sexually harassed by three teammates, a new report states.

Jonathan Martin, 24, was subjected to a “pattern of harassment” by Richie Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey, found the report.

Offensive lineman Martin abruptly left the team in October and underwent counselling for emotional issues.

Incognito, 30, was suspended amid once the claims surfaced in November.

‘Breaking Jmart’

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We doubt that matters would have gotten so out of hand had Incognito not set a tone on the offensive line that made extremely vulgar taunting a typical form of communication”

NFL report

According to the 144-page report released on Friday, the three men hurled racist slurs and sexual taunts at Martin, including comments related to his mother and sister.

Incognito is white; Martin is mixed race. A Japanese assistant trainer was also reportedly the victim of racial slurs, the report stated.

Investigators also reportedly obtained a notebook in which Incognito had boasted about “breaking Jmart” following near-daily taunting and ridiculing.

Incognito was found to be “the main instigator” who dictated a culture of poor behaviour within the sports team.

“We doubt that matters would have gotten so out of hand had Incognito not set a tone on the offensive line that made extremely vulgar taunting a typical form of communication,” the NFL report found.

Fellow players Pouncey and Jerry were said to have followed Incognito’s lead.

Martin, 6ft 5in and 312lb (140kg), left the team in October and was later briefly hospitalised before joining family.

Incognito, barred from the final eight games of the season, had claimed the allegations were the result of locker-room “brotherhood” and not bullying.

The NFL has not offered comment on any punishments stemming from the report’s findings.

Neither player is expected to return to the Miami Dolphins, the team’s owner told US media.

Incognito is currently a free agent and Martin – with two years left on his contract – will probably be traded or released, ESPN reports.

`Dolphins’ Martin Meets With League and Hopes to Return – By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: November 15, 2013

John Minchillo/Associated Press

Jonathan Martin met with Ted Wells, a lawyer for the N.F.L.

Jonathan Martin met for nearly seven hours on Friday with an investigating his claims of harassment in the Miami Dolphins’ locker room, saying afterward that he hoped to return to the league.

Martin, who left the team two weeks ago, met in Manhattan with Ted Wells, the league-appointed lawyer looking into the claims.

“Although I went into great detail with Mr. Ted Wells and his team, I do not intend to discuss this matter publicly at this time,” Martin told reporters. “This is the right way to handle the situation.

“Beyond that, I look forward to working through the process and resuming my career in the National Football League.”

Dolphins lineman Richie Incognito has been suspended in connection with the claims. He filed a grievance on Thursday over his suspension and has said his conduct was part of the normal locker-room environment.


The NFL’s Bully Problem Dave Zirin on November 4, 2013 – 10:06 PM ET

You have to admire the chutzpah of the NFL commentariat. They are falling all over themselves shouting that Dolphins offensive lineman, and outed racist bully, Richie Incognito has “no place in the National Football League.” With an élan that would shame Claude Rains, they are shocked, shocked that there could possibly be bullying in the NFL. How, they ask, can we protect a heroic, All-American institution like pro football from the scourge of bullies? Won’t someone please think about the children? Well, not the children getting bullied by football players, but other children. The ones who love NFL football!

The problem is that football has become as interwoven with bullying as corruption on Capitol Hill. As much as we may be repulsed by Richie Incognito and the way he treated teammate Jonathan Martin; as much as we all want to cluck our tongues at the news that Incognito threatened Martin with violence, joked (I deeply hope) about wanting to defecate in his mouth and slap his mother, as well as calling him a “half-n****er,” the easiest thing in the world would be to look at this the way the NFL wants us to look at it: as if we are witnessing the story of one player who just took the good, clean fun of rookie hazing too darn far.

This is crap. There is a stench of complicity throughout the Dolphins organization, with teammates as well as anonymous team officials  reflexively defending Incognito at every turn. I spoke with former Baltimore Colt Joe Ehrmann, a man who has dedicated his life to using football to teach principles of social justice (yeoman’s work, but Joe makes you believe it’s possible). The first thing Joe said to me was, “What about the ‘bystanders’ who knew, watched, and did nothing? If this was happening, they all knew plus I would guess some of the coaches as well as others. Seems to me that there is a lack of moral courage and moral clarity by many on that team. Hazing like homophobia, gender violence—all common themes in hyper-masculinity worlds—won’t end until we raise up generation of men willing to stand up and speak out.”

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