Off-field spate turns ugly in the NFL.
Richie Incognito filed grievance against the Miami Dolphins for his suspension over claims he harassed a teammate, saying the open-ended ban violates the NFL labor contract.
The Dolphins suspended Incognito on November 3 after allegations that he directed a racial slur toward teammate Jonathan Martin and threatened violence against him and his mother in a voicemail that Martin turned over to the NFL.
But the Dolphins put no timeframe on the ban, and the players’ contract with the NFL stipulates that a club can only suspend a player for conduct detrimental to the team for four weeks.
Incognito requested an expedited hearing with a neutral arbitrator.
“Richie Incognito filed a non-injury grievance against his employer, the Miami Dolphins, pursuant to his rights under the collective bargaining agreement,” the NFL Players Association said in a statement.
“The grievance challenges his suspension for conduct which was alleged to have occurred while he was with the club. In the grievance, Incognito requests that the hearing be held on an expedited basis so that he can immediately resume playing for the team.
“The NFL Players Association will continue to protect the rights of all players.”
Incognito denied bullying Martin during an interview with Fox Sports on Sunday.
“You can ask anybody in the Miami Dolphins locker room, ‘who had Jon Martin’s back the absolute most?’ and they will undoubtedly tell you me,” he said.
But Martin abruptly left the Dolphins earlier this month. His lawyer said the treatment he’d received had gone far beyond “locker room hazing.”
At the Dolphins’ request, the NFL launched an independent investigation, and Miami team officials have delayed a meeting with Martin until after he speaks to investigator Ted Wells on Friday.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, in his first public comments on the matter, said Monday that the team was “committed to getting to the bottom” of what prompted Martin to leave the team and to “making any necessary changes to improve our organization.”