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Dolphins owner to set up task force, meet with Martin

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Team owner Stephen Ross said Monday he plans to set up a task force to look into the Miami Dolphins' organization in response to the offensive tackle Jonathan Martin's departure and the suspension of guard Richie Incognito.

Ross also said he is scheduled to meet with Martin on Wednesday to discuss the issues related to him leaving the team, although he would not disclose the location of that meeting.

Ross said the task force would consist of five to seven members and could be expanded to as many as nine members.

At the moment, that committee is scheduled to include former NFL head coach Tony Dungy, former Dolphins head coach Don Shula, former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, former Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor and former NFL running back Curtis Martin.

During the press conference in Tampa, Fla., before the Dolphins' Monday night game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and in a statement issued by the team, Ross gave a vote of confidence to coach Joe Philbin but offered no comment about general manager Jeff Ireland.

Ross said the team's internal review would be headed by president and CEO Tom Garfinkel and would include participation from Philbin.

"Joe is a man of high character who routinely communicates to our players our expectations of behavior and he espouses the values that we stand behind," Ross said in his statement. "He genuinely cares about our players--you can see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice."

Jonathan Martin left the team Oct. 28 after an alleged lunchroom prank in which some teammates, including Incognito, refused to sit next to him. Martin is in Los Angeles with his family and receiving counseling for emotional issues.

"What's going on is something that couldn't have been a worse nightmare," Ross said. "The most important thing is, we care about Jonathan Martin. I have reached out to Jonathan Martin, I have texted him, we have communicated via text, and I plan to meet with him in person very shortly.

"I want to apologize to our fans for putting us in this situation."

Ross said he asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to appoint an investigator to head up the probe because he wants everyone to know the investigation is independent.

Meanwhile, ESPN reported Martin wants to return to the NFL at some point, but he does not feel he can play with the Dolphins anymore and is unlikely to play again this season.

According to the ESPN report based on sources, Martin is relieved to be away from the team at the moment because the past season and a half were unbearable for him. He tried to befriend teammates to avoid being picked on, but apparently that was unsuccessful.

Fox Sports reported Monday that Martin plans to release a video statement, perhaps this week, explaining in detail why he left the team.

Ross texted Martin last week and offered his support as the Incognito controversy began to take hold, a league source told ESPN.

In the text, Ross expressed to Martin what he also said in a team news release last week -- that he is committed to creating a professional environment for all members of his organization.

Incognito, in an interview with Fox Sports on Sunday, confirmed that he did leave the controversial voice mail message to Martin in April that included a racial slur and a threat to kill Martin. Despite the scathing language, Incognito said his actions "came from a place of love" and that vulgar communication was normal among Dolphins players.

"I'm not a racist, and to judge me by that one word is wrong," Incognito said. "In no way, shape or form is it ever acceptable for me to use that word, even if it's friend to friend on a voice mail."

In a transcript of the voice mail message from April, Incognito referred to Martin as a "half n-- piece of s--," and added, "F-- you, you're still a rookie. I'll kill you."

"It's thrown around a lot," Incognito told Fox Sports. "It's a word that I've heard Jon use a lot. It's not saying it's right that I did it and used it in a voice mail. But it's a lot of colorful words that are being thrown around in a locker room that we don't use in everyday life."

Dolphins offensive lineman Mike Pouncey told ESPN's "Monday Night Football" crew that he thought Incognito's Sunday interview was "fantastic."

"It was absolutely true," Pouncey said. "(Incognito) was very sincere about a lot of things. He admitted when he was wrong and let the whole world know his side of the story."
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