By ALYSSA NEWCOMB
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross spoke out today for the first time since a hazing scandal involving rookie Jonathan Martin and veteran Richie Incognito ballooned into what the franchise owner called a "nightmare."
Ross said he has been taking a "proactive" approach and planned to meet with Martin on Wednesday to get his side of the story after the player left the team earlier this month due to emotional distress.
"The most important thing is we care about Jonathan Martin," Ross said.
Ross said he would also meet with Richie Incognito, who was suspended indefinitely on Nov. 4 after Martin turned in voicemails and text messages showing Incognito used the N-word to describe Martin and threatened his family, according to ESPN.
The controversy came to light after Fox Sports reported that Martin and other rookies had been forced to pay thousands of dollars for dinner tabs and vacations for more veteran members of the team.
"What's going on is something that couldn't have been a worse nightmare," Ross said.
The franchise owner said he asked the NFL to lead an independent investigation into the Dolphins' workplace and is committed to making sure "we are the best organization in the NFL."
In order to achieve that, Ross said he has set up a five-person committee composed of NFL veterans to assess the team's policies and create a code of conduct, and that he hopes to expand the panel to include two more people.
"Changes need to be made. We need to look at ourselves internally," he said.
Incognito, in an interview with Fox's Jay Glaze that aired over the weekend, addressed the accusations of hazing and racism he has faced since his suspension.
"My actions were coming from a place of love," he said. "No matter how bad or how vulgar it sounds, that's how we communicate, that's how our friendship was. Those are the facts and that's what I'm accountable for."
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