If you thought the turmoil inside the Miami Dolphins locker room couldn't grow more mysterious, think again.
The team, reeling from accusations of bullying and harassment, suffered another hit on Wednesday evening when it was reported that Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland knew of the issues between players Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin and suggested that Martin settle it with his fists.
According to a report on Pro Football Talk, league sources say that Martin's agent, Kenny Zuckerman, spoke to Ireland on Oct. 28 about Incognito's treatment of his client. Ireland reportedly told Zuckerman that Martin should physically confront Incognito, going so far as to mention that Martin should "punch" his teammate.
Ireland would be expected to be interviewed as part of the NFL's independent review of the misconduct allegations made against Incognito, specifically a racially provocative voicemail and text sent to Martin.
On Thursday morning, a former Dolphins players spoke out in defense of Incognito on Sports Illustrated's MMQB website.
Offensive lineman Lydon Murtha, who played with the Dolphins from 2009 until 2012 and has since retired from the game, says that from the instant Martin joined the team, he came off as "standoffish and shy to the rest of the offensive linemen." Murtha added that Incognito treated Martin the same way he treated every player on the team and was an excellent leader, even becoming close friends with Martin to help him in his struggles to acclimate to live in the NFL.
Murtha said that the $15,000 that Martin was reportedly told to pay for an annual offensive line trip to Las Vegas only came after he had committed to the vacation and then backed out after plans had been finalized.
Murtha believes that Martin will have just as many, if not more difficulties, in returning to play in the NFL as Incognito since most players believe that Martin "broke the code" of dealing with locker room issues in the media.