Wells paves way for Michael Sam


No wonder Richie Incognito was so defensive on Twitter last Thursday.

Ted Wells' 144-page report released Friday about what happened in Miami between Incognito and Jonathan Martin, among others, paints a damning picture of harassment and bullying and just poor judgment.

Incognito treated Martin badly, to the point, according to Martin, of pushing Martin toward thoughts of suicide. That's not something teammates do. That's not something friends do. That's not something brothers do. And one certainly doesn't mock the other on Twitter over it.

But there was another piece to the Wells report that was equally disturbing, illustrative and informative about the culture that Michael Sam, the University of Missouri defensive end who last week announced he is gay, might be walking into once he is either drafted or signed by an NFL team in May. Not only did Incognito and fellow Dolphins offensive linemen Mike Pouncey and John Jerry bully Martin, they also harassed another young, quiet, reserved Dolphins offensive lineman known in the report simply as Player A.

Here's a sample, taken directly from the Wells report:

• Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry frequently taunted Player A, identified as Andrew McDonald Saturday, with homophobic epithets.

• Incognito asked McDonald, "Where's your boyfriend?" and made repulsive remarks.

• Incognito acknowledged that while no one actually believed McDonald was gay, he got it "every day from everybody, high frequency."

• According to Incognito, Martin and others, Dolphins offensive line coach Jim Turner was aware of the taunting of McDonald. Around Christmas 2012, Turner gave all of the linemen gift bags that included inflatable female dolls. Except Turner gave McDonald an inflatable male "blow-up" doll.

• Incognito and others acknowledged that Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry routinely touched McDonald in a mockingly suggestive manner.

It's all in the report, and it's very ugly.

Nevertheless, Wells wrote:

"Just as the racial taunting of Martin is inexcusable, so, too, is the taunting of Player A on the basis of sexual orientation, regardless of whether or not he is, in fact, gay. Several NFL players have been vocal in promoting acceptance and integration of gay players into the league, and we believe that the NFL as an organization is committed to creating a safe environment in which a player can feel comfortable being open about his sexual orientation. With the recent announcement by Michael Sam ... it is even more urgent that a tolerant atmosphere exist throughout the league. The frequent use of homophobic insults undermines this goal."

The NFL very well might be committed to creating a safe work environment for its players. It might have dedicated itself to reinforcing the workplace guidelines that govern its locker rooms.

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