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Originally published November 6, 2013 at 7:36 PM | Page modified November 6, 2013 at 9:06 PM

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Dolphins’ leadership comes into question in relationship between Martin, Incognito

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DAVIE, Fla. — A leadership vacuum may have contributed to the troubled relationship between Miami Dolphins offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito, which has left both players sidelined and the team in turmoil.

The ongoing saga has raised questions about whether coach Joe Philbin and his staff were negligent in allowing issues between Martin and Incognito to fester. Current and ex-players around the NFL say the situation reflects a lack of leadership because teammates of Martin and Incognito didn’t intervene.

NFL officials are trying to determine who knew what when, and whether Incognito harassed or bullied Martin. A second-year tackle from Stanford, Martin left the team last week and is with his family in California to undergo counseling for emotional issues. Incognito has been suspended indefinitely.

Ted Wells, a senior partner in a New York law firm with experience in sports cases, was appointed Wednesday by Commissioner Roger Goodell to investigate possible misconduct in the Dolphins’ workplace and prepare a report that will be made public.

“If the review reveals anything that needs to be corrected, we will take all necessary measures to fix it,” Philbin said. “I believe in our players, I believe in our staff, I believe in our organization, the people around here. I know why I got into coaching, and I believe in the things that I’ve done.”

Two people familiar with the situation said that Martin talked of quitting football earlier in his pro career before leaving the team last week. One person said Martin considered giving up the sport because of the way he was being treated by other offensive linemen on the team. The person added that Marin now wants to continue his football career.

Martin recently checked himself into a South Florida hospital to be treated for emotional distress that led the second-year player to leave the team last week, league sources told ESPN.

Philbin visited Martin at the hospital, and the organization arranged for his parents to travel to South Florida, the sources said. Martin shortly thereafter went back to California with his parents, sources told ESPN.

Dolphins passionately defended Incognito and insisted they didn’t see the blowup coming that led Martin to leave the team, saying he and Incognito were friends.

“The whole thing, it’s kind of mind-blowing to me,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “It’s kind of mind-blowing to most of the guys on our team right now.”


• Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will take over as Houston’s interim head coach and try to help the team end a six-game skid with Gary Kubiak out indefinitely after suffering a mini-stroke this weekend. “I’m just keeping the seat warm,” Phillips said.

• Teams looking to start the second half of the season with momentum meet Thursday when Washington (3-5) plays at Minnesota (1-7). Robert Griffin III is coming off his best game of the season. He faces a defense that is missing three starters in the secondary and its two top nose tackles

• The New Orleans Saints placed Jonathan Vilma, who has had knee troubles, on injured reserve, ending his season — and possibly his career — only three days after he had returned for his first game of this season.

• St. Louis has postponed quarterback Sam Bradford’s knee surgery, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, due to swelling. No new date has been set.

Clarence “Ace” Parker, the oldest member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has died in Portsmouth, Va. He was 101.

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