Dolphins fire OL coach, trainer implicated in bullying
Updated On: Feb 19 2014 11:04:02 PM CST
The Miami Dolphins on Wednesday fired offensive line coach Jim Turner and head athletic trainer Kevin O'Neill, who were both implicated in the bullying scandal report.
Turner served as Miami's offensive line coach for the past two seasons, while O'Neill was in his position for the past 18 years. The firings come in the wake of the report that detailed the actions of guard Richie Incognito and others that led to tackle Jonathan Martin walking away from the team last season.
"The language and behavior as described in the Ted Wells report are against the core values of our organization," Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in a statement. "After receiving the report, I conducted my own internal review of the facts to determine the appropriate steps for our organization.
"Jim Turner and Kevin O'Neill are good people who care a great deal about their profession and the players whom they serve, but both exhibited poor judgment at times which led me to this conclusion. As owner, I know firsthand of the high-character and dedicated professionals in our building. I believe in our team and know the hard work and sacrifices they make every day on the field and in the community.
"However, this is an opportunity and a teaching moment not only for the coaches, staff and players in our locker room, but also for participants throughout sports. I am in contact with Jonathan Martin and we plan to meet soon.
"Next week, I will provide further details of our partnership with the NYU School of Law and the NYU Center for Sports and Society regarding a broader effort to address conduct in sports. My commitment to our fans, coaches, players and staff is that we will be a stronger organization going forward."
The Wells report, released Friday by the NFL investigator, stated that Jonathan Martin was subjected to "a pattern of harassment" that included racial slurs and vicious sexual taunts about his mother and sister by three teammates.
The 144-page report said Incognito, who was suspended by the team in November, and fellow offensive linemen John Jerry and Mike Pouncey harassed Martin, while another offensive lineman and an assistant trainer also routinely came under attack.
Turner's name appeared several times in the Wells report. According to the report, Turner tolerated and even participated in the harassment of Miami players, lied to investigators and repeatedly attempted to convince Martin to publicly defend Incognito.
"Turner was aware of the running 'joke' that Player A was gay, and on at least one occasion, he participated in the taunting," the Wells report read. "Around Christmas 2012, Coach Turner gave the offensive linemen gift bags that included a variety of stocking stuffers. The gifts included inflatable female dolls for all of the offensive linemen except Player A, who received a male 'blow-up' doll. Martin and another player reported that they were surprised Coach Turner did this; Martin further said that he was offended that Turner had endorsed the humiliating treatment of Player A by participating in it.
"Incognito and others agreed that this incident with Coach Turner occurred. When interviewed, Turner was asked if he gave Player A a male blow-up doll. He replied, 'I can't remember.'"
The investigation stated one of O'Neill's assistants, who was born in Japan, was the target of racial slurs from Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry. O'Neill failed to do anything and "allegedly even laughed at some of the racial insults," according to the report.
"O'Neill, the head trainer, not only overheard the racist insults, but also sometimes laughed along and never intervened. We did not cover this specific topic in our interview with O'Neill, which was cut short because O'Neill expressed hostility toward our investigation," the report said.
O'Neill was originally hired by former coach Jimmy Johnson, who also was his boss in Dallas. O'Neill was dismissed eight months after being named the recipient of the prestigious Tim Kerin Award for Excellence in Athletic Training. He is only the fifth NFL trainer to claim the honor.
Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin also released a statement about the firings.
"As the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, it is my responsibility to create an atmosphere that allows each player the opportunity to reach his full potential," Philbin said. "As Stephen Ross said, and I agree, the language and behavior outlined in Ted Wells' report was disappointing and unacceptable.
"Since I first arrived in Miami, it has been my goal to have a team which honors our proud tradition and represents our fan base the right way both on and off the field. It is not possible for a team to accomplish its goals when the fundamental values of respect are violated.
"That ultimately rests on my shoulders and I will be accountable moving forward for making sure that we emphasize a team-first culture of respect towards one another."
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