Miami Dolphins  

 

Richie Incognito grievance attacks Jonathan Martin's strategy

Richie Incognito filed a grievance against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday, and a read through the four pages -- obtained by NFL Media -- shows the suspended guard's legal team taking aim at the strategy employed by the camp of Jonathan Martin.

The grievance says in its introduction, "If any conduct has been detrimental to the team, it is the manner in which Mr. Martin's representatives, including Mr. (David) Cornwell on behalf of his client, have elected to vilify Mr. Incognito and the entire Dolphins organization in the court of public opinion."

Incognito asked the neutral arbitrator, Jonathan Marks, for an expedited hearing. That hearing is tentatively scheduled for Thursday before Marks in South Florida, according to a source apprised of the schedule.

Martin met with the NFL's independent arbitrator, Ted Wells, for eight hours Friday. The union was excluded from the meeting.

When apprised with the content of the grievance, Cornwell declined comment but provided the following statement to explain the decision to keep the union away on Friday: "Jonathan and his family decided that it was in Jonathan's best interest to be represented by an independent counsel of his choice. As Jonathan said yesterday, his discussion with Ted Wells was frank and detailed. I was concerned that Jonathan's ability to be frank and detailed would be compromised if there were too many people in the room. We made it clear that our decisions in no way -- in intent or effect -- interfere with the NFLPA discharging its important duties as the exclusive bargaining representative of all players."

The grievance filed by Incognito is an attempt to recover lost wages as a result of the suspension. For each week Incognito misses, he loses $235,294.12 of his $4 million base salary.

The grievance asserts that "the club's discipline of Mr. Incognito is inappropriate, unreasonable, arbitrary, disparate, inconsistent with principles of progressive discipline and without just cause," and says that the interaction between players was "welcome and mutual and reflected the normal manner in which the various players interacted with one another during the one and one-half season that Mr. Martin and Mr. Incognito were teammates."

Also among the grievances listed:

» That the suspension came without proper warning, and that the Dolphins "failed to properly advise or warn Mr. Incognito that joking behavior amongst teammates or the use of vulgar or profane language amongst teammates, whether in-season or during the offseason, could subject him to disciplinary action." And that the club didn't perform an appropriate review, and thus the "immediate imposition of the harshest discipline available under the CBA was disproportional and unjustified."

» That the club "has not and cannot identify any detriment to the club caused by Mr. Incognito," citing Steve Ross' press conference last Monday, during which the owner "stated that neither he nor the coaches ever had any indication that anyone in the Dolphins locker room had any issues with Mr. Incognito or bullying."

» That "the only detriment to the club arising out of this incident is the harm resulting from the media strategy employed by Mr. Cornwell and Mr. Martin's other representatives. ... Had Mr. Martin and Mr. Cornwell approached this complaint as a professional employment complaint rather than a media blitz, the club could have carried out an orderly, impartial investigation and determined that Mr. Martin's mental health issues are unrelated to Mr. Incognito or any other member of the Dolphins organization."

The next milepost after Incognito's grievance is heard comes in early December, at which point Miami would have to reinstate Incognito to the roster or release him. At that point, only the league can extend his suspension under conduct detrimental.

Martin remains on the Dolphins' 53-man roster.

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @AlbertBreer.

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