The Miami Dolphins have fired offensive line coach Jim Turner and head trainer Kevin O’Neill for their roles in the bullying scandal that enveloped the organization during the second half of the 2013 NFL season. An NFL-commissioned independent report released last week described “offensive and unacceptable” behavior from three Dolphins offensive linemen — Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, and John Jerry — aimed at two fellow offensive linemen and a Dolphins assistant trainer.
Incognito, Pouncey, and Jerry, verbally abused and harassed the players — Jonathan Martin and Andrew McDonald, who was identified as Player A in the report — and the assistant trainer, repeatedly peppering them with racial and homophobic slurs and other abuse. Turner, the report found, knew of the abuse. O’Neill supervised the trainer who was abused.
“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 announcing the firings. “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.”
Head coach Joe Philbin said Wednesday that he was taking steps to ensure that nothing like this would happen again within the Dolphins organization.
“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,” Philbin said. “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.”
The independent report cleared Philbin of any wrongdoing, though as I wrote Friday, it failed to address the fact that Philbin should have known about this behavior. Firing Turner and O’Neill is a good start toward addressing this scandal and holding people accountable for it. Still, though Philbin seems to acknowledge his own role in preventing this type of bullying going forward, no one seems willing to answer the question about why he didn’t know about this scandal, or why he shouldn’t be held accountable for allowing this to happen on his watch.