I read the report and it is pretty well written and damning for Incognito as well as others including the coach. Incognito is an idiot for tweeting beforehand that it would bury Martin.
There are a few things that smell. I don't think there is any huge conspiracy but I would bet that the NFL helped write it. Question is why?
The Dolphins approached Goodell and turned over the evidence (tweets voicemails) on a Sunday and by Wednesday the NFL had hired Wells and his firm to do an independent investigation. That is is really really fast to get the facts and make the decision and vet law firms. Just deciding on someone who can be independent takes a while. I've been in similar situations where an independent investigation is needed and it just doesn't happen that fast. Also noting that Wells was hired exactly 2 days after this went viral via ESPN getting transcripts of the voicemail.
The NFL's press release on the Wednesday stated the mandate was:
direct an independent investigation into issues of workplace conduct at the Miami Dolphins and prepare a report for the commissioner, which wouldbe made public
The phrase workplace conduct is what is important there. That is a phrase you don't hear associated with the NFL very often. The NFL has always had it's own rules.
The lawyer they hired is a big time trial lawyer with success both prosecuting and defending. Trial lawyers like this are always hired to take a side. He has defended Spitzer and Scooter Libby. Just not the first guy I would think of as independent. There are lots of agencies or groups that could have done this investigation.
The report itself does not come across as unbiased in places. Here are the introductions of both Martin and Incognito:
Jonathan Martin is 24 years old and a second-year player in the NFL. Higher education and professional success have long been prized in his family.Martin also was admitted to Harvard, among other top colleges. Had he chosen to attend Harvard, he would have been the first fourth-generation African-American student in the school’s history.There have been lawyers in every generation of Martin’s family dating back more than a century. Ms. Howard-Martin has spent her career as an employmentdefense lawyer; Mr. Martin, who also holds a law degree, is a professor and university administrator.
At Stanford, Martin majored in Classics and relished his intellectual development.
Richard “Richie” Dominick Incognito, Jr. currently is 30 years old. He is Caucasian. The son of Richard and Donna Incognito, he spent his childhood in Northern New Jersey.
That's all the background you really get before 3 pages of Incognito's behavioural and disciplinary problems. Within the first few sentences we get
News accounts state that Incognito had run-ins with bullies as a boy.
May be reading too much into this but the background information seems to be trying to sway the reader to love Martin and despise Incognito. Background information is supposed to be fair and factual.
Finally we get to the main conclusion of the report which is
The Mistreatment of Martin Is Consistent with a Case of Workplace Bullying.
Based on the NFL mandate from November, it is clear to me that Goodell wanted to make this an HR issue. Formalize it into the same type of discipline and rules that say Wells Fargo has. Hazing and bullying and racism and homophobia have been going on for decades and this is the first time I have ever seen it related in terms of the workplace atmosphere. These things have always been accepted as unique the the NFL.
Nobody ever talked about bountygate in terms of the workplace. The love boat incident was not a workplace issue. Favre's willy photos or Ben's escapades had nothing to do with the workplace
I think what has happened is people and the media start asking "hey if I did something like that down at IBM i'd be fired and sued." Secondly Goodell knows that there will be openly gay players in the NFL soon and that is a huge hot button issue and he wants the NFL to come out of it cleanly. It may not be coincidence that the report came out shortly after Michael Sam's announcement
Goodell has likely been looking for a way to shift the paradigm on how players act in the locker room. So he saw the chance, paid his hired gun to make the conclusions in terms of workplace violence and bullying which had never been done before. Please don't believe the NFL when it states that it will review the report. Goodell had full access to this report before it was released and absolutely nothing was a surprise to him.
He has sent the message to teams that they will be held to a different standard going forward and has let players know that they can bring the issues up under various workplace laws as opposed to just the NFL's disciplinary policies.