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Question of the Day
New York attorney Ted Wells began interviewing players regarding the harassment case involving tackle Jonathan Martin and suspended guard Richie Incognito. Wells‘ visit was expected to last at least two or three days, ensuring further distractions for a team trying to keep its season from derailing.
A defeat Sunday would have accelerated the Dolphins‘ recent tailspin. Instead they beat San Diego 20-16 to improve to 5-5 and remain in the race for an AFC wild-card berth.
“It’s going to come down to a tight finish, and we have to win,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “We want to win all the rest of our games.”
On Friday, Martin spent nearly seven hours talking with Wells. Before the attorney began his interviews with other players, he released a statement — 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.”
“As we’ve said from Day One, we’re going to fully cooperate,” coach Joe Philbin said.
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 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.”
As tackle Tyson Clabo noted, the Dolphins are 2-1 since Martin left the team and the scandal began to unfold. Eight wins might be enough to make the playoffs in the parity-filled AFC, and the Dolphins are tied with the Jets in the race for the sixth and final playoff spot.
The teams play each other Dec. 1 and Dec. 29.
The Dolphins are at .500 even though they’ve been outgained by 571 yards this year, and they were hardly dominant against the Chargers, who totaled 435 yards but scored only one touchdown.
Miami won despite missing 60 percent of its offensive line, including center Mike Pouncey, who was out sick. Replacements included undrafted rookie Sam Brenner, who won praise from teammates in his NFL debut.
The victory inspired an emotional postgame locker-room pep talk by the stoic Philbin.
“The focus and the resiliency of you guys, all right, this week amid all that’s going on — unbelievable,” Philbin shouted. “Fantastic job by you guys hanging tough, sticking together and working at your job, being a pro, coming to work every day regardless of the circumstances.”
Receiver Mike Wallace conceded the game seemed like a refuge amid the recent media scrutiny.
“This is one of the only things we have to escape everything else — to just go out and play a football game,” Wallace said. “Any time you can get a win it makes everyone around you feel good, and even the people who are not around you.”
Martin, a second-year pro from Stanford, has been with family in California undergoing counseling for emotional issues. He attended Stanford’s game Saturday at Southern Cal, watching from the sideline.
Revelations about their relationship struck a national nerve on the issue of locker-room bullying, and have 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.”
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