The NFL Players Association said Tuesday that it will insist on a fair investigation for all involved in the Miami Dolphins harassment case.
The league is investigating the troubled relationship between Dolphins offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. Martin left the team last week because of emotional issues, and Incognito was suspended indefinitely Sunday by coach Joe Philbin for his treatment of Martin.
"We expect that the NFL and its clubs create a safe and professional workplace for all players, and that owners, executives, coaches and players should set the best standards and examples," the union said in a statement. "It is the duty of this union to hold the clubs ... accountable for safety and professionalism in the workplace. ... We will continue to remain in contact with the impacted players, their representatives and player leadership."
Incognito's harassment of Martin included text messages that were racist and threatening, two people familiar with the situation said. The 319-pound Incognito, a ninth-year pro, is white. The 312-pound Martin, who is in his second NFL season, is biracial.
"Clearly what's happened here has escalated into a situation that's unprecedented," said ESPN's Ed Werder. "It's possible that careers of both of the players involved here might well have ended with this whole incident."
It's unclear whether Dolphins coaches or management knew of any harassment between the players before Martin left the team. ESPN reports Martin never approached Philbin about the alleged harassment.
"I think it's a difficult admission for Joe Philbin to make because you are guilty either way," said Werder. "Either you're guilty of knowing this problem existed and not resolving it, or you're guilty of knowing about something that you seemingly should've been aware of. He is right. It's his responsibility."
Recent talk of dissension in the Dolphins locker room has included complaints by young players that they're pressured to pay more than their share when team members socialize together.
The Miami Herald reported Monday that the Dolphins plan to cut ties with Incognito.