Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey (51) stands with guard John Jerry (74), tackle Bryant McKinnie (78), and guard Nate Garner (75) during football practice. At left is offensive line coach Jim Turner.
The Miami Dolphins have fired offensive line coach Jim Turner and head athletic trainer Kevin O’Neill. These are the first punitive measures taken since the release of an NFL investigator’s report last week that claimed several examples of bullying and workplace harassment happened within the organization.
The team announced the moves Wednesday afternoon, five days after both men were implicated in Ted Wells’ explosive report.
“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. … 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.”
In a statement, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said he agreed with Ross that “the language and behavior outlined in Ted Wells’ report was disappointing and unacceptable. … 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.”
Turner had finished his second season with the Dolphins. O’Neill, who previously was named recipient of the 2013 Tim Kerin Award for Excellence in Athletic Training. had been with the team for 18 years.
Wells’ 144-page report found that linemen Richie Incognito, John Jerry, and Mike Pouncey engaged in a “pattern of harassment” of fellow linemen Jonathan Martin and Andrew McDonald, and an assistant trainer.
The report said Turner was aware of some of the harassment and even took part in some of the abuse, including buying McDonald a male sex doll as a gag gift around Christmas 2012. Turner told investigators he didn’t remember the incident, but investigators said they didn’t believe him.
Additionally, Turner was also accused of pressuring Martin — who was hospitalized after leaving the team — to release a statement that would clear Incognito and other players.
The report also found one of O’Neill’s assistants, who was born in Japan, was the target of abuse and racial slurs from Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey. O’Neill “allegedly even laughed at some of the racial insults” and never intervened, according to the report. The report also claims that O’Neill cut short an interview with investigators and “expressed hostility toward our investigation.”
Philbin and the front office were not aware of the players’ mistreatment of Martin, McDonald, or the assistant trainer, the report determined.