Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has postponed his talk with Jonathan Martin until after the NFL's independent investigator meets with the distressed tackle in its probe into alleged bullying, the team said on Tuesday.
Ross had said in a news conference on Monday before Miami's game against Tampa Bay that he set up a Wednesday meeting with Martin, who left the team at the end of last month and later claimed he was the victim of harassment.
The National Football League last week appointed Ted Wells, a noted New York attorney with experience in sports cases, to investigate possible misconduct in the workplace in the wake of the unfolding harassment scandal.
"Ted Wells and the National Football League have asked that we delay our meeting with Jonathan Martin until they have the opportunity to meet with him," Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel said in a statement.
"Out of deference to the process, we will cooperate with their request. We look forward to meeting with Jonathan as soon as possible."
Miami has already indefinitely suspended Martin's fellow offensive lineman Richie Incognito, who was singled out by the former's representatives for abusive behavior toward the second-year player.
Ross's announcement of his now-delayed meeting with Martin preceded an embarrassing 22-19 loss to the previously winless Buccaneers (1-8), a defeat that head coach Joe Philbin would not blame on the distractions caused by a scandal that has engulfed his team for two weeks.
"Tampa Bay deserved to win the football game, credit them," Philbin told reporters on Tuesday after reviewing the game that dropped the Dolphins to 4-5. "We just didn't execute very well. It wasn't the offense, it wasn't the defense, it wasn't the special teams. It was all of them."
Philbin defended his players over criticism of a clubhouse culture that allegedly coerced young players to pay for expensive dinners and trips for veterans, and led to a text message from Incognito to Martin that included racial profanity and threats that owner Ross had said he was "appalled" at.
"They are very good teammates, they are professional. They work hard. Representing this organization the right way on and off the field is important to them," Philbin said.
"We discuss appropriate behavior and the type of work atmosphere we want to create. We talk about that every single day."
Philbin said that with the season heading into its stretch run, it was time for the Dolphins to concentrate on football with the San Diego Chargers (4-5) up next.
"This is a performance-based industry that we're in. Winning football games is what we all get paid to do," he said.
"Teams that have the great character, the great chemistry, they find a way to fight through the obstacles and the adversity and perform well this time of the year. And that's what we have to do.
"We have to focus on football."
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)