Report: League pressured Dolphins to fire Kevin O’Neill

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The Ted Wells report on the bullying in the Dolphins’ locker room said that the team’s head trainer, Kevin O’Neill, “expressed hostility toward our investigation.” That hostility may be why O’Neill was fired this week.

Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel, in a column that relies on anonymous sources who clearly want to get O’Neill’s side of the story to the public, reports that pressure from the league office led to the Dolphins firing O’Neill.

There was a lot of pressure to fire Kevin,” a source said, adding that the pressure came from the league and was the result of O’Neill refusing to play ball with the investigators.

The Sun-Sentinel also reports that O’Neill denies the most serious allegation made against him in the Wells report, that he laughed along with the racial insults that Richie Incognito hurled at one of O’Neill’s assistant trainers. In fact, according to an anonymous source who talked to Hyde, O’Neill immediately went to that assistant trainer and asked him how he wanted to handle it. That trainer said he would handle the issue directly with Incognito, and that after the trainer confronted Incognito, Incognito apologized.

O’Neill may now be planning to sue the Dolphins for wrongful termination. According to the Sun-Sentinel, when Dolphins Executive Vice President of Football Administration Dawn Aponte informed O’Neill that he was fired and asked him if he had any questions, O’Neill’s response was, “Talk to my lawyer.”

Those aren’t the words of a man who’s planning to accept his firing. O’Neill may not have told his side of the story to Wells, but he could be fixing to tell his side of the story in a lawsuit.

73 responses to “Report: League pressured Dolphins to fire Kevin O’Neill

  1. Since O’Neill had to sign the HR documents about the NFL policies A-Z, I see him having a tough time winning a law suit. Especially for any “at will” employee. O’Neill will get a nice package.

  2. I’d bet the farm Incognito immediately finds another team and Martin never plays another down. These people’s lies are going to come back to bite them, both financially and socially.

  3. I think there should be an investigation on Ted wells investigation into the dolphins bullying scandal, it seems there are some discrepancies in the investigation that was reported and it should be investigated.

  4. Pretty pathetic the league intervenes in teams internal issues. You have to let the teams operate as independent organizations without interference.

  5. People need to give it up, this was not philbins fault, there are plenty of coaches who get their info about the locker room from the other coaches and trainers, if the other coaches and trainers fail to report it how could philbin fix it. Quit acting like all the head coaches in the nfl have offices in the locker room and are in there all the time. They had a few bad people in the locker room and they got rid of them, not like any other team ever had to deal with it right? Murderers, bounty men, drug and alcohol abusers and most recently women abusers, oh, but bullying is just way too much!

  6. There is going to be SO MUCH money passed around on settlements and judgements on so many levels when this debacle settles down.

  7. The NFL is incredibly hypocritical. The league allowed this type of locker room behavior to go on for the last 25+ years. The league knew damn well what sort of stuff goes on in locker rooms and never did the league lift one finger to create a better locker room culture. Now, when things finally get really ugly, the league acts as though it is outraged by this and blames everyone except itself. The league created this culture, condoned it for decades, and should own up to its own mistakes. Change the culture going forward, but own up to your own past failures instead of blaming everyone else. This is a lot like the bounty crap of a few years ago.

  8. He can sue all he wants. They have much better lawyers. If he refused to cooperate with the investigation then he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Where does he end up coaching? NFL teams won’t go near him for awhile. Colleges don’t need a distraction like him in their locker room and no way a high school will hire someone who was fired for acting like a bully.

  9. wow, the ripple effect of this just keeps getting larger and larger, if Jonathan Martin simply stood up for himself in the beginning none of this would be happenning….now a bunch of lawyers are going to get rich(er)…

  10. Stephen Ross is the 2nd richest owner in the NFL behind Paul Allen. I’m sure his lawyers are up to the challenge.

  11. There are so many knee jerk reactions driven by a ton of one sided stories including the wells report that the league is going to look bad now along with the dolphins. The media isn’t helping either so it’s just a mess. What an embarrassment all around.

  12. I heard the equipment manager and the hot dog vendor might get fired too. As long as no one of importance is affected the NFL is cool.

  13. League should’ve pressured the Dolphins into firing Philbin. Guy is joke of head coach and that press conference at the Combine sealed it. “I take blame but I don’t take blame.”

  14. I still don’t understand why he wouldn’t cooperate with the investigation. If you don’t cooperate, you have no business being upset when the story comes out wrong (in your opinion). You had your opportunity to get the story straight in the beginning.

  15. Goodell is a joke & it seems he’s always too late with anything & the last word that dont have a clue kind of like Ross!!! SELL THIS TEAM ROSS & FIRE YOURSELF GOODELL PLEASE!!!

  16. It’s not far-fetched that the coach didn’t know what was going on in the locker room. That’s the place where the team decompresses. It’s loud,stinky and dudes walking around in towels. Maybe the ol’ ball coach doesn’t want to see,hear or smell that joint and lets the guys use that area to get away from him and his cronies. I know the only time I saw my coach during high school was when he had some news,before practice/games,halftime and right after a game. He wasn’t hanging out in there with us. And if no one did anything stupid during school or after,he had no clue what was going on.

  17. Wrongful termination? Wrong. You are not entitled to a job for life in the NFL. Get out. Good luck finding a new gig.

  18. I’m not too sure about this report. Ross vowed to cooperate completely with the investigation and also to make changes based on the findings of the report. It’s clear that O’Neill refused to cooperate so it appears that he knew and/or participated in the harassment. If O’Neill “stood up” for the assistant then why didn’t anyone (the assistant, O’Neill,Incognito) tell this to the investigators….it’s information that they would want them to know. Also, Ross said that he had his own team investigate the Wells report. How can O’Neill sue for wrongful termination when he clearly went against Ross’ orders to cooperate?

  19. I agree that a head coach should know most everything thats going on in his lockeroom but lets be realistic boys….how is one man supposed to know EVERYTHING that goes on unless he is next to the players every second of every day?

  20. Wonder what else was left from the “independent” investigation. Hire a real law firm to do it. Seems like it was all about pinning blame on the players… and low level coaches.

  21. Huge blown up deal in Miami, all because Martin is too fragile to take what he probably dished out the other way. Funny how that is. The NFL is going to bury itself pretty soon. It is too expensive for fans anymore and the whole game is being sissified.

  22. I’m not saying he’s innocent, but this is just another case of todays society when the media prints it, it’s Gulty till proven innocent.

  23. I think many here on this site woul refuse to cooperate if went into in investigation where opinion was already formed. Ted Wells entertained all accusations & inuendos against Incognito but omitted testimonial in his favor other than a general lumping sealed in a bias notion. Furthermore they excuse all actions by Martin with immunity from scrutiny. The writing was on the wall, so I would have balked also, wouldn’t YOU.

  24. I’m still not convinced that an unbiased insider wouldn’t have said the Dolphins locker room was indistinguishable from most other teams. Not saying that is good or bad but I’m having a tough time buying the NFL’s line that this was some crazy, one-of-a-kind-in-history situation that could never happen anywhere else.

  25. Good luck with that “Wrongful Termination” lawsuit. Even in cases where the circumstances favor the plaintiff these types of suits are rarely won. Also, good luck ever getting another job in athletic training at either the pro or college level if you file this suit. Not picking a side, just stating the facts.

  26. So we can add O’Neil to the list of actual football people who say nothing unusual happened in spite of what the media wants us to believe?

  27. They fired someone because he was a big meanie towards the investigator? Someone please show Mr.Wells to the box of tissues.

  28. I tell you what you don’t get this anywhere else in the world. Even when the season is over there is always something going on, bounties, alleged serial killers, players shooting themselves, playing with themselves in their cars, alleged serial rapists etc sure these horrible things happen in society but generally not with high profile superstar sports men. The people I feel for other than the victims are the decent guys which thankfully are the 99% of the league.

  29. ” Also, good luck ever getting another job in athletic training at either the pro or college level if you file this suit”

    He was fire from the NFL, as if that will help him get an college or school job.

  30. Why don’t the league just hire everybody. Hire the coaches, draft the players for each team. Just let the league control everything. Because that’s what they want. And probably will be how it is one day. NFL reminds me so much of the government.

  31. This sounds more like something the government, the mafia or the NCAA would do and in the end, I’m really not surprised by the power hungry Goodell and the NFL minions; pathetic.

  32. “In fact, according to an anonymous source who talked to Hyde, O’Neill immediately went to that assistant trainer and asked him how he wanted to handle it.”

    If this is true, there was absolutely no reason to fire him.

  33. The NFL is the ultimate bearer of standards for how its employees are treated and what they expect from them.

    It’s obvious these standards did not extend to players being that they are not followed in the locker room. Players call each other every name imaginable. The Dolphins are victim of this locker room culture like any other team. Any team trying to play the result ‘we don’t do that’ is simply lying. Trainers are there. They don’t tell on players that called another a name. But O’Neill is suddenly a witch that needs burning?

    They all know now that some ribbing can now be legally defined as harassment. If you are black and don’t like being called the N word, then players including black players will be held liable for harassment. The NFL will not be able to defend this in court any longer, so time to get all these guys in line.

    The NFL should set some things in place now with zero tolerance for the future instead of playing the results by firing people who simply lacked the ability to distinguish right from wrong on behavior that was rather commonplace, at least in Mr. O’Neill case. He may have a chance to win a lawsuit.

  34. O’Neill doesn’t stand a prayer unless he has some whopper of a countersuit in mind. Right to work state, he could walk off at lunch and never come back and there would be no problem (unless he is a nurse, which he isn’t, then it goes into job abandonment). He could come back from lunch and be fired and there would be no problem. Good luck with your career, sir.

  35. “He doesn’t have a case, Florida is an at-will employment state. They don’t need to have or provide any reason for your firing.” True, but I presume that he has a contract, and it probably requires a for cause termination, and they will argue that the basis did not me that contractual definition, and therefore he is entitled to his full pay for the remainder of the contract plus reasonable fees. If so this case will likely settle and he will get some $$

  36. Well perhaps those anonymous sources will not remain as such forever……

    Who knows what connection Martin’s attorney parents have to attorney Ted Wells. What Incognito did and said was absolutely wrong. However Martin bears some blame also for leaving the team and not seeking out Joe Philbin to complain.

    The report is said to be inaccurate in many areas. Perhaps it’s because a light skinned black man was investigating racial harassment against another light skinned black man and therefore the report was more profound or slanted for Martin than it should have been.

  37. So should KO win his lawsuit Dawn Aponte could be in the clear from her action being urged from the league ?

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