Dolphins Leaders Speak Up And Take Charge

Posted Nov 6, 2013

Character inside locker room has remained strong.

Smack in the middle of a media firestorm that has not died down this week, key Miami Dolphins players took exception to their leadership being questioned both inside the locker room and from the coaching staff.

Starting quarterback Ryan Tanehill, one of six members of the team’s leadership council that was voted on by the players, stepped to the podium today for the first time since the story about his two offensive linemen – Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin – broke over the weekend. On the field Tannehill is the field general on offense, commanding the huddle, and he took command of his press conference in similar fashion, explaining how he handles his role.

“Being a leader on this team, you want to step in and help anybody who’s dealing with something,” said Tannehill, who like Martin is in his second season in the National Football League. “If I had any idea that this was an issue, that he (Martin) was struggling, of course I would have constantly checked on him, ‘How are you doing? How are things going? Just making sure you’re okay.’ You can never judge another man for what they’re going through. Everyone deals with something different in life and just to have no idea that this was even going on is tough for me because you can’t help a situation that you didn’t know existed, that no one on this team knew existed.

“We have a bunch of good guys in this locker room and to be put in a situation where everyone’s attacking the locker room and saying it’s such a bad place, it’s such a bad culture and no leadership to stand up and stop the situation, no one knew there was a situation to be stopped. So it’s really tough for us to sit here and hear all of that when we have each other’s backs, and I wouldn’t have a problem stopping a situation that was occurring.”

Incognito also was voted onto the leadership council, along with Tannehill, center Mike Pouncey, defensive end Cameron Wake, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and defensive tackle Paul Soliai. These were the players everyone else would turn to with their concerns and they would convey them to Head Coach Joe Philbin.

It worked out that three offensive players and three defensive players comprised the council and they all had different voices. But to a man each of them credited Philbin with creating a solid atmosphere at the facility and a nurturing environment for all players.

“I think more than anything what’s been bothering me is kind of the things that you hear from outside this locker room about things that maybe undermine the integrity of the leadership or the type of players or class of guys we have here or the class of this organization,” Wake said. “I’ve been here five years and Coach Philbin has done nothing but turn this organization in a positive direction from top to bottom, and to hear some things about what’s not going on here or what is going on here, it’s unfortunate, it’s wrong, it’s ridiculous and it’s hard to hear. The whole situation’s unfortunate but there’s one thing that I do know and that is the type of guys we have around us are professional and they’re well above aboard and it’s sad to hear people try to say anything but that.”

Soliai described the leadership council as a “brotherhood,” and as tight as a family and explained how hard they worked to create a strong environment for all of their teammates. Those other players in the locker room have the utmost respect for the leadership council.

Cornerback Brent Grimes is an accomplished veteran who is now in his second locker room after spending his first six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons before coming down to Miami as a free agent. He was equally disturbed by the inferences being made that leadership on the team should come into question.

“I don’t know why that’s a question, honestly. I don’t know why even leadership is a question,” said Grimes, who has two interceptions on the season. “We go out there and play football. We fight to the end, you can see that if you just put on the tape and that takes leadership and a bunch of guys that want to do what they have to do to play this game and we obviously do. Everything might not go our way but you can’t ever say on the field that we just are quitters and that takes leadership itself.”
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