The Dolphins on Wednesday fired offensive line coach Jim Turner and head athletic trainer Kevin O’Neill, five days after both were implicated in Ted Wells’ report about the team’s bullying scandal.
The decisions were made by team owner Stephen Ross, who had spent the past few days deliberating. O’Neill was not informed until he arrived at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis because Ross wasn’t ready to make a decision before then.
Turner had not accompanied the staff to Indianapolis.
“The language and behavior as described in the Ted Wells report are against the core values of our organization,” 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.”
Coach Joe Philbin, in a statement, did not address the firings but said he agrees 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.”
Wells concluded that Turner — who was the Dolphins’ offensive line coach the past two seasons, his first NFL job — 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.
Wells said Turner was aware that several players jokingly accused then-Dolphins offensive lineman Andrew McDonald of being gay. 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.
New Dolphins assistant offensive line coach John Benton could replace Turner. Benton was Houston’s offensive line coach the past eight seasons.
O’Neill, the Dolphins’ trainer for the past 18 years, declined to comment when reached in Indianapolis.
Wells said O’Neill “not only overheard the racist insults” directed toward Martin and assistant athletic trainer Naohisa Inoue, but “also sometimes laughed along and never intervened.” Wells said his interview with O’Neill was cut short because “he expressed hostility toward our investigation.”
O’Neill, who was brought to the Dolphins by Jimmy Johnson, previously was named recipient of the 2013 Tim Kerin Award for Excellence in Athletic Training.• Ross said he is in contact with Martin and will meet with him soon. He also said he will provide details next week about his partnership with the New York University School of Law “regarding a broader effort to address conduct in sports.”