Has the Incognito-Martin Case Cost Miami a Few Super Bowls?

The Miami Dolphins locker room behavior may cost Miami a chance at hosting Super Bowls in the future. While many people are focusing on the culture of the Miami locker room and casting a close eye on Incognito and Martin along with other players, the coach Joe Philbin, his staff and the team’s general manager Jeff Ireland, Stephen Ross and the NFL know that sports fans have short memories of problems that arise with a team.

There are some sports scribes who are looking forward to getting the Incognito-Martin dust up out of the way and with news cycles being what they are, it is possible that sports media executives will order less coverage because there is an ongoing investigation.

Because of dumb luck, Ross’s Dolphins will be on display in the Monday Night game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on national cable TV. The conversation about the Ross Dolphins isn’t going away anytime soon.
The wishing it goes away is all fine and good in the toy store of journalism life—the sports department—but in the real world that doesn’t translate very well. You see, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wants public money to revamp the team’s stadium. This should have been done already in Ross’s mind but the Florida legislature threw a monkey wrench into Ross’s stadium renovation plan last spring by denying Ross money to get the job done.

Ross and the National Football League warned Florida politicians about the gravity of the situation. No money no future Super Bowls because Ross’s stadium is second rate.

Some Florida politicians were in support of holding a mid-spring 2013 referendum that would have determined whether or not the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins’ owner, the well-heeled real estate mogul Stephen Ross , should get a quarter of a billion dollars to renovate his football’s stadium to bring it up to a more modern standard. Ross claimed the team has never asked for money for stadium upgrades. But Ross already has a $60 million tax rebate from the state that all Florida big league sports teams get, a $2 million gift that lasts 30 years. Ross’s lobbyists were pushing for another state bill which would kickback $3 million a year for a 30-year period to not only his team but all of the Florida major league sports teams.

Ross’s lobbying group got nothing and the referendum never took place.

This is an embarrassing situation for Ross who probably lost face among his NFL brothers. Owners generally push politicians around and get what they want. The NFL has taken notice of this and will punish Miami by not awarding any future Super Bowls to the area because of the subpar stadium conditions.

Ross’s paid spokesman, rather CEO, Mike Dee has left the job and has landed in San Diego with the baseball Padres as that franchise’s CEO and president. Dee claimed Ross would never leave Miami but if Ross sells the team, you never know what might happen with a new boss.

This all occurred before the Incognito-Martin incidents took place. The effort to go after state money took place despite the fact Miami Dolphins officials knew Incognito had some improper contact with a woman at a Dolphins fundraiser and a settlement was being worked out.

Incognito and Martin aren’t the owner Ross employees being investigated. A far more serious investigation that is taking place, the murder charges against former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez has ensnared another of Ross’s offensive linemen.

Following an October 26th Dolphins-New England game in Foxboro, Massachusetts, the Massachusetts State Police served Mike Pouncey with a grand jury subpoena. Nothing more has been revealed but the subpoena is related to the investigation into Hernandez, who was college teammates with Pouncey at the University of Florida.

None of this is good for Ross’s business, the Dolphins. Ross couldn’t get stadium funding last spring while all seemed to be well with his business. Will Incognito, Martin, Pouncey and the investigations surrounding their plights be harmful to Ross in his next try at getting public money to renovate his aging stadium?

And politics being what it is could play into the stadium problem. What politicians in South Florida or in the state legislature would want to be associated with the Ross Dolphins now? Sure sports fans are ready to forgive and forget. But most of the greater Miami population doesn’t care about the Dolphins and the NFL or for the Super Bowl for that matter and the regulars who migrate to the greater Miami area during Super Bowl time don’t have to worry about not getting their favorite rooms or paying through the nose for that room with no Super Bowl.

Unlike cold weather areas, the Super Bowl isn’t a great financial boon to sun belt areas loaded with snowbirds like the great Miami area, or the Tampa Bay, Florida are of the Valley of the Sun, Glendale-Phoenix, Arizona area. The displacement of regular tourists brings down the Super Bowl’s economic impact and there are no real definitive case studies of Super Bowl impact just guesses.

Miami residents are not happy with paying for Major League Baseball’s new stadium and how it was funded by taxpayers’ dollars. That is still lingering over the area and while sports scribes might want to move on, people like the former Philadelphia Eagles owner and South Florida area car dealer Norman Braman is not forgetting the Miami baseball stadium financing scheme.

To make matters worse, Ross threatened to start funding political campaigns of people who would support his stadium idea against incumbents who said no to Ross.

There is another question too. Will marketing and business partners want to stay with Ross? The Dolphins brand is flawed on many levels and will businesses that have to deal with a mainstream not a slim core of Dolphins fans stick with Ross or worry about being associated with Ross’s Dolphins?

These are problems that go far beyond sports fans and cross into real life.

Richie Incognito, Jonathan Martin, Mike Pouncey and the news that one of Miami’s greatest wide receivers Mark Duper getting diagnosed with signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy or a permanent brain injury from playing football will not be helpful in Ross’s campaign for stadium funding.

This year’s Miami Dolphins still have a chance to make the playoffs and compete for a Super Bowl. Mathematically it is possible. The investigation into workplace culture and atmosphere is taking place with an NFL investigator. The Miami Dade district attorney should be involved as should Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA.

The culture of punch a guy in the face may work for the NFL mindset but it is hard to see Tallahassee legislators justifying giving Stephen Ross money to fix up his plant if his company is perceived as being out of control with thugs running the palace.

Evan Weiner can be reached at [email protected]. His e-book, “The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition” is available (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/365489) and his e-books, America’s Passion: How a Coal Miner’s Game Became the NFL in the 20th Century, (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/americas-passion-how-coal/id595575002?mt=11),  From Peach Baskets to Dance Halls and the Not-so-Stern NBA (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/from-peach-baskets-to-dance/id636914196?mt=11)  and the reissue of the 2005 book, The Business and Politics of Sports (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/business-and-politics-of-sports-evan-weiner/1101715508?ean=2940044505094) are available.