STEVEN WINE, AP Sports Writer
MIAMI (AP) — In a state where the two other NFL teams are in last place, the Miami Dolphins are the biggest laughingstock of all.
They’ve become the butt of jokes by late-night comedians, a bad sign for an already floundering franchise. Such quipsters as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert weighed in on Comedy Central after the Dolphins’ bullying scandal struck a national nerve.
While the NFL is serious about investigating tackle Jonathan Martin’s allegations of daily harassment by teammates, including Incognito, others are laughing at the dysfunctional Dolphins like never before. That’s saying something for a team that has endured four consecutive losing seasons and hasn’t won a playoff game since 2000.
Even Spirit Airlines poked fun on its website.
“Don’t be bullied by high fares. Fly Incognito out of Florida or any place for that matter,” read an advertisement by the South Florida-based business.
Give Dolphins players credit: They can take a joke.
“So I see Spirit Airline got jokes lol,” tackle Bryant McKinnie tweeted.
This is no laughing matter. Martin will meet late this week with the NFL’s special investigator to discuss the allegations.
Martin is with his family in California to undergo counseling for emotional issues, while Incognito is suspended indefinitely. The special investigator will determine whether Incognito harassed Martin, and whether the Dolphins mishandled the matter.
It has all made for a tense atmosphere at the team complex, and even stoic coach Joe Philbin attempted to lighten the mood. He allowed himself a slight smile watching a throng of media scramble into position for his daily post-practice news conference.
“I hope the Dolphins aren’t liable for any of those hamstrings that all you guys pulled on the way over here,” Philbin said. The comment drew a few chuckles.
The Dolphins (4-4) were to play for the first time since the scandal broke Monday night at Tampa Bay (0-8). While the Buccaneers sought their first victory, and while the Jacksonville Jaguars are 1-8, it’s the Dolphins drawing the most guffaws in the Sunshine State.
Stewart and Colbert both joked about the name of Miami’s Pro Bowl guard turned national villain.
“Has there ever been a less apt name for a person than Incognito?” Stewart said on “The Daily Show.”
“The Colbert Report” noted a lunchroom prank by Martin’s teammates that he took as a last straw, prompting him to leave the club two weeks ago.
“I bet they also made fun of him for wearing clothes with dolphins on them,” Colbert said.
Colbert also quoted the now-notorious voicemail Incognito left for Martin in which he used a racist term, threatened to kill his teammate and threatened to slap Martin’s mother. But Colbert described Incognito as the victim in the situation because he has “been pushed around by kindness cabal.”
“If only he had a way to hide his identity,” Colbert said.
Dolphins tackle Tyson Clabo didn’t watch either show but was told he made “The Daily Show” in a locker room video clip.
“I was on Jon Stewart, which is huge,” Clabo said. “I heard it’s a good thing I have a sense of humor, because I heard I wasn’t portrayed the best. But we can all laugh.”
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