New York Lawyer Wells to Lead NFL’s Probe of DolphinsErik Matuszewski
National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said there’s no time limit for an independent probe into alleged harassment in the Miami Dolphins’ workplace, which will be led by New York attorney Ted Wells.
Wells, a senior partner in the law firm of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, will direct “a thorough and objective” investigation and submit a report to Goodell, the NFL said in an e-mailed statement last night.
“Ted Wells will have full authority to investigate as he deems appropriate,” Goodell said. “Consistent with doing a thorough investigation, we have not imposed a specific timetable on him.”
The Dolphins asked the NFL four days ago to investigate allegations that harassment led Jonathan Martin to leave the team. Fellow offensive lineman Richie Incognito was indefinitely suspended.
“I am committed to creating a professional environment for all of the members of the Dolphins family,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in an e-mailed statement last night. “Once the review is completed and I have all of the facts, we will respond accordingly.”
Ross said the Dolphins will be “fully cooperating with the review,”, while Miami coach Joe Philbin said the team will take “all necessary steps” to correct anything that Wells finds amiss.
ESPN reported that Incognito, 30, asked Martin, 24, to contribute financially to an unofficial team trip to Las Vegas that Martin did not attend. The network also said the Dolphins and the NFL have a copy of a voice message from April in which Incognito used a racial slur and threatened Martin’s life.
David Dunn, Incognito’s agent, has not responded to multiple e-mails and a message left at his office seeking comment on the ESPN reports.
Goodell said harassment has no place in NFL facilities. “Under league policy, all employees have the right to a workplace free of any form of harassment,” the commissioner said. “We are fully committed to an appropriate working environment for all NFL personnel.”
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill told reporters yesterday that he had no sense there was any problem in the relationship between Martin and Incognito.
“I would say Jonathan was like Richie’s little brother,” Tannehill said. “(Incognito) gave him a hard time, he messed with him, but he was the first one there to have his back in any situation and it’s a big surprise what’s going on.
‘‘The first guy to stand up for Jonathan when anything went down on the field, any kind of tussle, Richie was the first guy there,” the quarterback added.
Billy Hunter’s firing in February as head of the National Basketball Players Association came after an audit of the union overseen by Wells.
The review concluded that, while Hunter did nothing illegal, he failed to manage conflicts of interest, lacked proper corporate governance and didn’t disclose that his $3 million-a-year contract wasn’t properly ratified.
Wells also was involved in an internal investigation into the men’s basketball program at Syracuse University, where federal prosecutors in November 2012 dropped a yearlong probe into former assistant coach Bernie Fine, saying there wasn’t enough evidence against him to support allegations of sexual abuse.
“My task is to assemble the facts and present my findings to the commissioner,” said Wells, whose report for Goodell will be made public. “I will do so fairly and comprehensively so that Commissioner Goodell can address this matter properly. I will begin my work immediately and report my findings to the commissioner as soon as practical.”