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Monday, March 24, 2014
Dolphins prompting change, which is good

By James Walker

ORLANDO, Fla. -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday that improving the workplace environment is a major focus for the league moving forward. Goodell said he spoke numerous times to the Miami Dolphins and 40 players total from nine different teams on how to fix the league’s locker-room culture.

“What do we need to do to make sure we have a workplace that we're all proud of?” Goodell said at the annual league meetings. “Those [talks] have been very productive.”

None of this would be possible without the Dolphins. Had Jonathan Martin not left the team on Oct. 29 amid bullying and harassment claims and caused a media firestorm, this topic would not be near the top of the docket at the NFL’s league meetings. That is perhaps the biggest silver lining the Dolphins can take from one of the most controversial chapters in franchise history.

The curtain was pulled back on Miami’s locker-room culture last season and prompted conversation and change. Mike Pouncey, Richie Incognito and John Jerry were three players cited for harassment in the 144-page Ted Wells report. That certainly caught Goodell’s attention, and the NFL is examining various measures to prevent another situation like this from happening again.

“We’re trying to get as much input as possible,” Goodell said. “This is a culture change. ... This is more about people understanding the importance of a professional workplace where there’s respect for everybody, whether it’s a teammate, an opponent, game officials.”

In this case, change is good. NFL locker rooms have long been behind the times. The Dolphins just happen to be the team that exposed the need for change. What the Dolphins experienced last year was negative, but learning from it going forward is a positive for the Dolphins and the entire NFL.

According to Goodell, no decisions have been made on potential suspensions for Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry. Goodell said all three players must first go through medical evaluations before the NFL makes a decision.