TAMPA, Fla. — Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has broken his silence on the bullying scandal that has engulfed his team, saying he’s appalled by Jonathan Martin’s allegations of daily harassment by teammates.
Ross said he plans to meet with Martin on Wednesday at an undisclosed location and that he has been in touch with the tackle through text messages.
“I look forward to that meeting. I think that can help us move forward,” Ross said. “I’d like to hear from him what had happened, why he felt that way and what we did and what we could have done to prevent something like this from happening. I want to hear the circumstances, the facts.”
The owner vowed before Monday night’s game between the Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to get to bottom of the allegations and create a locker room culture that “suits the 21st century.”
“It couldn’t have been a worse nightmare,” said Ross, who was joined at the press conference by team president and chief executive officer Tom Garfinkel.
The NFL is investigating Martin’s allegations against teammates, including Richie Incognito. Martin, 24, is with his family in California to undergo counseling for emotional issues. Incognito, 30, has been suspended indefinitely.
A special investigator for the league will determine whether Incognito harassed Martin, and whether the Dolphins mishandled the matter.
“We simply don’t know what happened or didn’t happen yet,” Garfinkel said. “We want to know the truth.”
Ross strongly endorsed second-year Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, saying he had the “utmost confidence” in the man he hired in 2012. The owner, however, did not express support for beleaguered general manager Jeff Ireland.
“Joe Philbin is probably one of the most organized people I’ve ever met,” Ross said. “When I interviewed him that stood out, but what also stood out was his character. I don’t think there is a better person, a more respected person, a more caring person in the National Football League than Joe Philbin.”