For the Dolphins, looking toward the 2014 season began on Dec. 29, the day the Dolphins were officially eliminated from playoff contention in a Week 17 loss to the New York Jets. Since then, the Dolphins have overhauled their personnel staff, hiring a new offensive coordinator and finally hiring a new general manager in recent weeks. With the search for an offensive coordinator and general manager now finished, the Dolphins have one burden to get over from the 2013 NFL season—the Richie Incognito–Jonathan Martin bullying scandal that engulfed headlines from late October until late November.
Whether or not the scandal had a huge effect on the team’s performance during that stretch is anyone’s guess, but there’s no denying that instead of focusing on the Dolphins’ quest for a playoff berth, the media zoned in on the Incognito-Martin situation for weeks.
For a Dolphins team that had many major issues on the field in the first place, the off-the-field issue involving Miami’s two starting offensive linemen certainly did not help matters. Fast forward three months later, and with the Super Bowl and the NFL season officially over, the media is running out of things to talk about pertaining to football—how coincidental that new information involving the scandal, including new texts between Martin and Incognito that shed light on the two players’ friendship with one another, has popped up in the days following Super Bowl XLVIII.
The fact of the matter is this: Incognito’s suspension has been lifted, but he’s a free agent, and the Dolphins have made it clear they’re not bringing him back. Martin, the Dolphins’ starting left tackle, is under contract for next season, but will be on the trade block. If the Dolphins are unable to find a trade suitor, they will just simply release Martin.
We can go back and forth on this situation, debating whether Incognito really bullied Martin, whether Martin is just overreacting to the situation or if it’s just something in between. The fact of the matter is nobody in the media or outside of that Dolphins locker room will ever know the truth.
What we do know is, from a pure football perspective, the entire scandal provided an unneeded distraction to the Dolphins’ 2013 season. With the last details of the scandal being released this week, and with Incognito hitting the free agent market and Martin due to be traded or released, the Dolphins can finally move on from this headache of a situation and officially start anew in 2014.