The NFL Players Association plans on attending all meetings between Miami Dolphins players and independent investigator Ted Wells. However, the player at the center of the matter, Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin decided to exclude the NFLPA form his meeting with Wells on Friday.
According to Martin’s lawyer, David Cornwell, the decision was made by his client, via Pro Football Talk:
Jonathan and his family decided that it was in Jonathan’s best interest to be represented by an independent counsel of his choice. As Jonathan said yesterday, his discussion with Ted Wells was frank and detailed. I was concerned that Jonathan’s ability to be frank and detailed would be compromised if there were too many people in the room.
We made it clear that our decisions in no way — in intent or effect — interfere with the NFLPA discharging its important duties as the exclusive bargaining representative of all players.
However, that may not be the entire story.
Pro Football Talk is reporting that, according to a source close to the matter, the NFLPA is assuming that its exclusion has to do with the friction between Cornwell and DeMaurice Smith, the Executive Director of the NFLPA. In 2009, Cornwell ran against Smith for the position, and has been critical of his job performance. Also, Cornwell, who serves as executive director of the NFL Coaches Association, has clashed with Smith through litigation. Cornwell has also accused the NFLPA from steering players away from his services.
Since they were not present at the meeting, the NFLPA now has to separately get its hands on the information Martin gave to Wells, in order to advise players who may be accused of harassment of wrong doing.