Miami Dolphins: What Happened to the Character, Jeff Ireland?

By Scott Feder

For a coach and a general manager that pride themselves on stockpiling character guys, the Miami Dolphins offensive line could not be further from representing that trait. Dolphins’ head coach Joe Philbin and GM Jeff Ireland shipped off the likes of Brandon Marshall and Chad Johnson because of their off the field behavior, yet the players on the offensive line seem to have had the freedom to say and do as they please. Let’s try to make sense of these ”characters.”

The dirtiest player in the league as voted by the players is left guard Richie Incognito. Most recently, without detailing every personal foul and fine of his career, Incognito has been suspended by the Dolphins organization for his alleged harassment of starting right tackle Jonathan Martin. There are allegations ranging from racist remarks and death threats to Martin giving Incognito $15,000 for a trip to Las Vegas that Martin didn’t go on just because he feared for his safety if he didn’t give Incognito the money.

Jonathan Martin himself, the victim in all of this, has left the team due to the bullying going on in the locker room. In all honestly, I fell horrible for him. The team’s offensive line has been getting killed all season long by opposing defenses as well as by the fans and members of the local media—I’m guilty of it as well. That being said, it is his job as a professional athlete to go out there and compete at the highest level. If his feelings are hurt by the criticism about his play off the field, then I don’t feel sorry for him. Man up, take some pride in what you do and do something about it. If you’re tired of getting picked on in the locker room then take it out on the opposing team’s defensive line.

Now clearly the situation is exponentially more complicated than that. Martin’s decision to leave the team has almost everything to do with the treatment he is receiving in the locker room from his own teammates and not from the outside. Where I feel sorry for him is that nobody did. For a grown man to get to the point where he walks away from a multi-million dollar gig because he was tired of being picked on, then there is a serious problem inside that organization with character and leadership.

Mike Pouncey, the Dolphins starting center, was also mentioned in story released by CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. The extent of what he was involved in is said to be lesser than that of Incognito, but it’s no surprise to hear his named mentioned in all of this as well. This is the same Mike Pouncey who was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury merely an hour after their loss to the New England Patriots and was seen wearing a “Free Hernandez” hat in the days following former Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez’s arrest for the alleged murder of Odin Lloyd. Rumor’s surrounding this subpoena range from Pouncey possibly having some sort of knowledge linked to the case to the possibility of gun trafficking.

The latest character added to this offensive line is none other than Bryant McKinnie. In 2006, McKinnie plead guilty to disorderly conduct and being a public nuisance on a watercraft stemming from his involvement with the “Love Boat” scandal in 2005 when McKinnie played for the Minnesota Vikings. A few years later, in Miami, he was arrested and charged with aggravated battery, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence when he was involved in a fight outside of a Miami nightclub.

None of this represents the type of character that Joe Philbin, ideally, would like on his football team and more specifically his offensive line. Essentially, this puts into perspective how bad things really were on the offensive line if all of these clowns are starting together. The sad part is that the “good” character guys on this team are awful and haven’t really played until recently with injuries and non-football related injuries. With the “bad” character guys playing, the Dolphins have given up the most sacks in the league. What is the point of having guys like this on the team if they are destroying the locker room instead of the line of scrimmage?

Scott Feder is a Miami Dolphins Contributor for Follow him on Twitter @federisbetter81, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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