Related’s Stephen Ross Speaks Out on Miami Dolphins Bullying


Real estate isn’t the only thing on Stephen Ross’s mind these days.

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With the Hudson Yards development project proceeding smoothly by comparison, Mr. Ross has had to turn his attention to another venture—his Miami Dolphins franchise.

(Photo: Forbes)
(Photo: Forbes)

The team’s Monday Night Football loss to the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers did little to overshadow what has been a tumultuous two weeks for the Dolphins.

Earlier on Monday, Mr. Ross broke his silence for the first time since Jonathan Martin, a 24-year-old offensive tackle, departed the team after an incident in the team’s lunchroom on October 28. Details that have emerged since that time suggest Mr. Martin was the subject of repeated bullying from teammate Richie Incognito, 30. Mr. Incognito has since been suspended from the team.

“I and the Miami Dolphin organization are committed to getting to the bottom of this issue and making any necessary changes to improve our organization,” Mr. Ross said in a statement, before adding the team had placed priority on Mr. Martin’s wellbeing prior to speaking out. Mr. Ross further indicated he had exchanged text messages with Mr. Martin and plans to meet with him in person in the coming days to address his concerns.

Mr. Incognito has admitted to making racial slurs and threats to Mr. Martin via text message. Those texts were labeled “appalling” by Mr. Ross in an interview with ESPN’s Mike Tirico.

After news of the bullying broke, the ensuing debate has centered on the culture of alpha-male dominated NFL locker rooms.

“The NFL locker room is a special place, no doubt, but that does not mean that different rules of decency and respect should be in play,” Mr. Ross added in his statement. “Winning championships is what we are all about, but we cannot do so if any of our family members are challenged from reaching their potential.”

Mr. Ross, chairman of the Related Companies, acquired a 50 percent share in the Miami Dolphins franchise from Wayne Huizenga for $550 million in 2008. In early 2009, he acquired a further 45 percent stake, with the entire deal valued at over $1 billion.