Miami Dolphins players said they just wanted to talk football as reporters pressed them to answer questions about the ongoing saga regarding allegations that Richie Incognito harrassed Jonathan Martin. NBC 6's Laura Rodriguez was there.
The latest allegations from tackle Jonathan Martin went mostly unanswered Saturday by the Miami Dolphins, weary of fending off questions about the harassment case that has rocked the franchise.
"I'm not going to give you nothing," offensive lineman Nate Garner told a throng of reporters in a genial tone.
"I'm only talking about football," center Mike Pouncey said.
"We have a game on Monday," defensive end Cameron Wake added. "I'm not thinking about anybody that's not in this locker room, and that's the truth."
The Dolphins creating all the attention this week aren't with the team. Martin left last week and alleges he was harassed by teammates, including guard Richie Incognito, who has been suspended.
That leaves Miami (4-4) short-handed for Monday night's game at Tampa Bay (0-8), but blocking and tackling will offer a brief respite from the relentless revelations in the bullying scandal.
"The pressure this has created from a media standpoint can really cause some problems," tackle Tyson Clabo said. "But as far as the guys in this locker room, we all pretty much see this thing through the same set of eyes. We're ready to go and try to change the narrative here to get back to football."
Martin, who's in counseling for emotional issues, will discuss the case late next week with a special investigator hired by the NFL.
On Thursday, Martin's attorney released a statement that said in part: "Beyond the well-publicized voicemail with its racial epithet, Johnathan endured a malicious physical attack on him by a teammate."
"Since I've been here I haven't seen anything like that," said Clabo, who joined the Dolphins in May.
Incognito has long been known for out-of-bounds behavior, including a May 2012 incident that surfaced this week. A police report said a female volunteer at a Dolphins charity golf tournament complained that Incognito harassed her.
"We were made aware of the incident and we took immediate action," coach Joe Philbin said. "That's all I'm going to say. ... Any club action we would take against any player would be kept private."
Philbin declined to say why he subsequently allowed Incognito to become a member of the player leadership council.
Media interest remained high Saturday, with some 75 reporters and cameramen descending on the team complex. Half a dozen TV vans camped out across the street from the entrance, monitoring comings and goings.
Adding to the commotion was a caravan of two dozen police motorcycles that pulled into the parking ramp adjacent to the practice field. They weren't on scandal watch — President Obama happened to playing golf across the street.
Players stretched at the start of practice to the sounds of "Me Against the World" by Tupac, a song chosen for the occasion by the players. "Stuck in the game," Tupac rapped. "No one in the world loves me. ... So no matter how hard it get, stick your chest out. Keep your head up and handle it."
The Dolphins haven't played since Oct. 31, when they beat Cincinnati on an overtime safety in prime time just as the scandal was beginning to build. That victory was quickly forgotten.
"We don't hear anything about winning last week on a safety," cornerback Brent Grimes said with a laugh. "We just went right into this. The situation stinks."
In a locker room that was already showing signs of dissension, the situation's potentially divisive.
"It can be," defensive tackle Randy Starks said. "But right now we're sticking together."
"We're a band of brothers," Pouncey said. "We're here for one thing, and that's to play football and to win football games, and that has been our main focus since all of this has gone down."
Players have been more vocal in their support of Incognito than Martin, but Clabo said there's plenty of sympathy for both. It's uncertain whether either will play again in the NFL.
"Those guys are going through a lot right now," Clabo said. "I feel for both of them and the situation they're in. It can't be easy for either one of them. It's not fun."
Meanwhile in Pompano Beach, former Dolphins wide receiver Mark Duper weighed in on the issue at a charity event hosted by former Dolphin John Offerdahl.
"If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen," Duper said. "I don't know the whole situation about it but I truly believe when I was a rookie I did some things that I didn't want to do, but I fought through it and it made me a better person."
Former Dolphins offensive back Keith Sims had another take on the matter.
"I've got a son who plays football and I don't want him to go through anything outrageous," he said.
"Butt it's got to be under control this situation -- a lot of things got out of control."
As the NFL investigation into potential misconduct continues, players agree that tough or not, the lockeroom is a right of passage.
"People look at us like neanderthals now," Sims said. "We're cavemen in there, but I can honestly tell you this. You ask any player here and you ask what they miss most about football they will tell you -- that lockeroom."