If a crisis is considered as any situation that is threatening, could seriously interrupt business or significantly damage a reputation, then the Miami Dolphins definitely have a crisis on their fins. The Miami Dolphins organization has been trying to keep its image and reputation above water after allegations of bullying, hazing and harassment left two players on the inactive list. Jonathan Martin, a tackle for the Dolphins, abruptly left the team at the end of October, reporting emotional stress. Days later, teammate Richie Incognito was suspended indefinitely for claims of detrimental behavior toward teammates dating back to the 2012 season. It is reported that Incognito had left graphic and threatening voicemails for Martin and sent explicitly worded text messages, even after his suspension began.
The Dolphins organization, as well as the National Football League’s, is now taking hits to its image and reputation. In such a tight-knit organization, it’s a little confusing how the problem could escalate to this severity and go unnoticed by teammates and the coaching staff.
In an initial press release, prior to Incognito’s suspension, Miami put the focus on Martin’s well-being and claimed all accusations were just that – accusations. A second press release stated that the allegations were being taken seriously and that the NFL would be conducting a formal investigation. The third and final press release concluded that Incognito had been involved in detrimental behavior and would be suspended, and the NFL would continue their investigation.
Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross is “appalled” by the incident but is unable to meet with Martin until the NFL’s investigators meet with him first.
The damage may be done, but the Dolphins are taking steps in the right direction to rebuild their reputation; they identified the problem, implemented a short-term solution and are formally and thoroughly investigating the situation. Miami also issued three press releases to keep the NFL community in the loop, but many questions are still unanswered. Will Martin or Incognito return to play for the Dolphins? How will the organization punish (long-term) this kind of behavior? Did the coaching staff know about the situation and are they at fault? How will the NFL change its culture to prevent another incident like this one? The wrong answer to these questions could add to the damage the Dolphins organization is facing and take even longer for it to recover.
By Ali Seys
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.