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Would 2013 Dolphins have accepted Sam?

2/17/2014

On Friday we all got a detailed look at the Miami Dolphins' locker-room culture. It was not a pretty sight.

In addition to the persistent harassment, racial slurs and overall immaturity from the offensive linemen, a troubling element of anti-gay behavior was detailed in investigator Ted Wells’ report. For example, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey and John Jerry frequently subjected one young teammate "to homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching." The report said offensive line coach Jim Turner even pranked the player.

That leads me to this important inquiry: Would the 2013 Dolphins have accepted Michael Sam as a teammate?

The former University of Missouri defensive end, projected recently to be a mid-round draft pick, publicly shared he is gay last week and is on pace to become the NFL's first openly gay athlete. That is commendable and will be one of the most important football stories of 2014.

But there was plenty of evidence in the 144-page Wells report to suggest Miami's locker room may have been the wrong place for Sam if he had joined the league last season. Take the case of the Dolphins lineman referred to in the report as "Player A," now known to be Andrew McDonald. Incognito acknowledged to Wells that Player A, although not actually believed to be gay, was taunted "every day from everybody, high frequency" and "routinely touched by Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey in a mockingly suggestive manner, including on his rear end, while being taunted about his supposed homosexuality."

Will the Dolphins do enough this year to change this sordid workplace environment?

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said Friday that an Incognito-Martin situation must never happen again. Ross also said recently that his team would welcome Sam if drafted in May, and I believe Ross has good intentions.

But in order to move forward, Miami's owner must first look back and examine what went wrong with his locker-room culture in 2013.