Philbin was the first representative of any team to stand at the lectern Thursday and answer questions from the media gathered at Lucas Oil Stadium for the NFL scouting combine. He had his boilerplate answers about being accountable but largely sounded like a bystander simply observing the embarrassing wreckage. He spoke in platitudes and generalities, offering few specifics about how the franchise plans to improve its culture.
A report by independent investigator Ted Wells released last week painted a picture of a festering situation in which Incognito, teammates and even a coach had badgered and bullied fellow offensive lineman Martin and others for more than a year, creating a toxic environment. Incognito ultimately was suspended for three months.
“I did not know about it when it was going on,” Philbin said. “The majority of things I did not know about it. Things became quite public around Nov. 1. Some things seeped in, leaked in. I heard the same voice message you probably heard, the country probably heard.
“If I’d heard this type of language and these types of acts were being done, I would have intervened immediately. There’s a common decency that people need to have toward one another. When that gets violated, that’s an issue. I certainly wish I’d seen some of it. I could have intervened quicker. But it’s easy to look back and that’s how it unfolded. Now we’ve got to focus on the future and how we’re going to handle the problem.”
Philbin only spoke in generalities about any plan of action, however.
“We’re going to do things about it,” he said. “We’re going to make it better. We’re going to look at every avenue, uncover every stone, and we’re going to have a better workplace. I promise you that. I’m going to make sure that happens.”
Although Philbin opened with, “I want everybody to know, I’m the one that’s responsible for the workplace environment at the Miami Dolphins facility,” he’s apparently rock-solid in his job. Offensive line coach Jim Turner is gone, though, as is longtime trainer Kevin O’Neill. Both were fired Wednesday night, with O’Neill even making the trip to Indianapolis with Dolphins personnel, an indication the club is still feeling its way around in the dark.
Incognito becomes a free agent next month, and Martin’s future is unclear. Philbin offered no hints about which way the organization is leaning.
“We haven’t made any decisions on anybody’s future in terms of the 2014 Miami Dolphins,” he said.
Asked why he didn’t take issue with Incognito being named to the team’s leadership council shortly after the player had been accused of assaulting a female volunteer at a charity golf tournament, Philbin said: “The process is, the players elect the players they want to be on the leadership council. Out of respect to the process, that’s how the votes came in, and he was on the leadership council.”
Finally, Philbin was asked if the situation has damaged the Dolphins' brand, potentially making it tougher to attract free agents to play for them. He offered another bromide, making it sound as if the latest challenge is on par with what the other 31 teams are facing.
“I know we have work to do, like every other football team here, we’re here to work,” he said. “We’re here to evaluate these prospects and improve our football team.”
No one would dispute that.