Dolphins offensive line coach Jim Turner is in serious jeopardy of dismissal, and subject to potential NFL discipline, after the investigator into the team’s locker room scandal determined that Turner was not forthright during his interview, participated in the taunting of a Dolphins player and repeatedly urged Jonathan Martin to make a comment defending Richie Incognito after Martin left the team.
Investigator Ted Wells said Turner was aware that several players jokingly accused then-Dolphins offensive lineman Andrew McDonald of being gay and that Turner participated in the taunting at least once.
As a Christmas gift late in the 2012 season, Turner gave all of the offensive linemen inflatable female dolls except for McDonald, who was given a male “blow-up” doll.
According to Wells, Martin and another player said they were surprised Turner did this. Martin said he “was offended that Turner had endorsed the humiliating treatment of McDonald by participating in it,” according to Wells’ report.
McDonald now plays for the Carolina Panthers.
When asked by Wells if he gave McDonald a male blow-up doll, Turner said: “I can’t remember.” But Wells said: “We do not believe that Turner forgot this incident, which many others recalled.”
Martin said Turner and former assistant offensive line coach Chris Mosley — who resigned during the season for reasons the team has declined to disclose — overheard some of the vulgar comments that Incognito, Mike Pouncey and John Jerry made about Martin’s sister, and Incognito did not dispute that.
Martin and Incognito said Turner “neither joined nor criticized the harsh language,” and both said Turner “was a good coach.”
Turner denied witnessing any inappropriate treatment of Martin, but Mosley said Turner heard some of it. Martin said Mosley participated in some of the insulting comments — a claim Mosley denied.
“Based on the entire record, we find that coaches Turner and Mosley were certainly aware of some of the insulting comments directed to Martin by Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey, although we cannot determine the full extent of that awareness,” Wells said.
Wells also accused Turner of being less than honest in addressing another issue. During film review, if Turner criticized a lineman for missing an assignment, and that lineman pointed out that one of his teammates was actually at fault, that lineman might be labeled a “Judas,” which could result in another player imposing a fine.
Mosley said Turner introduced the Judas concept to the offensive linemen.
Several Dolphins offensive linemen were familiar with the “Judas” concept and told Wells that Turner had discussed it with them. Turner denied knowing what the term “Judas” meant in the context of the Dolphins offensive line and denied discussing it with players or ever hearing the term used in offensive line meetings.
“We do not credit Turner’s denials,” Wells said. “The evidence shows that Turner was aware of the ‘Judas’ concept and that he had discussed its meaning with the linemen, explaining how Judas had betrayed Jesus Christ and defining Judas as a ‘snitch.’ ”
Wells said that after Martin left the team, Turner sent Martin a message saying: “Hope you are OK, man. If you need anything, let me know.”
But Wells said Turner then repeatedly urged Martin, by text message, to defend Incognito in a public statement.
Martin responded to one text, but then stopped communicating with Turner.
Among Turner’s texts to Martin over several days: “Richie Incognito is getting hammered on national TV. This is not right. You could put an end to all the rumors with a simple statement. DO THE RIGHT THING. NOW…..
“He is protecting himself. He has been beat up for four days. Put an end to this. You are a grown man.….. John, I want the best for you and your health but make a statement and take the heat off Richie and the locker room. This isn’t right…. I know you are a man of character. Where is it?…. It is never too late to do the right thing!”
Wells said that when Turner sent those messages, he knew Martin “had hospitalized himself in connection with a mental-health condition and that Martin had previously struggled with serious psychological problems and had contemplated suicide.
“We accept that Turner may have believed in good faith that Incognito was being unfairly attacked by the media, but he should have realized that it was inappropriate to send such text messages to an emotionally troubled player. We find that these text messages to Martin demonstrated poor judgment on Coach Turner’s part.”
Turner is not cast in a completely unfavorable light.
Wells said Turner appropriately handled the situation when Martin skipped two days of offseason workouts.
In a May 7 meeting, Martin told Turner that he was thinking about leaving football, and Turner asked Martin if he was experiencing suicidal thoughts, told Martin that he should not take football so seriously, and encouraged Martin to be happy that he was making a lot of money.
Martin did not tell Turner that he was being harassed by teammates.
“We commend Coach Turner,” Wells said of that May 7 meeting. “He took Martin’s disappearance seriously, pushed Martin to discuss his depression and promptly reported the information to Coach [Joe] Philbin.”
If the Dolphins and Turner part ways, he could be replaced by new Dolphins assistant coach John Benton, who was Houston’s offensive line coach the past eight seasons.