Friday, February 28, 2014

Miami Dolphins: Wells’ Report Fallout

After months of interviews and waiting the NFL’s independent investigation by Ted Wells was delivered last week. The 144 page report, in short, explains everything that most already put together themselves. There were enough details in the report for the axe to begin dropping. The first two casualties of the report were offensive line coach Jim Turner and long time athletic trainer Kevin O’Neill.

O’Neill is a shocker for most, even those within the Dolphins organization. O’Neil has been with the Dolphins since 1996, and has proven himself through multiple coaching staffs, owners, and hundreds of players. In June of 2013, O’Neill won the Tim Kerin Award for Excellence in Athletic Training. This award is a highly prestigious award given the the athletic trainer that is most worthy in the country. So how does such a highly praised trainer end up fired? Here is what was said in the report itself: 

"O'Neill, the head trainer, not only overheard the racist insults, but also sometimes laughed along and never intervened," the report said. "We did not cover this specific topic in our interview with O'Neill, which was cut short because O'Neill expressed hostility toward our investigation.”

O’Neill may be looking for a new job now because of how respected he was in the Dolphins organization. By doing nothing in the presence of the disrespectful slurs, as a highly respected figure, he was embracing behavior that the organization as a whole does not tolerate. Even worse he was not cooperating with the investigation and expressed hostility. This is how you lose your job even if you have respectfully served eighteen years. 

As for Turner, he was an easy target. The innocent was happening within his squad of which he was in charge, he tolerated and even embraced the disrespectful behavior, he sometimes participated, and finally he lied to support Incognito. Turner was a much more obvious firing than O’Neill. Another factor that didn’t favor Turner is he was brought in under the Dolphins old offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. Turner was Sherman’s offensive line coach at Texas A&M before join him in Miami. After Sherman’s firing, and the madness surrounding his offensive line, Turner was almost certainly doomed. 

This may be the extent of the firings from the fallout of the Wells’ report because the Dolphins did some house cleaning prior to its release (general manager Jeff Ireland and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman). 

What is left is to decide the fates of the players named in the report. Owner Stephen Ross will be meeting personally with Jonathan Martin to see if he wishes to continue his career on Miami. Most likely Martin will be traded or cut so he can pursue a career elsewhere. The other key players named in the report were Richie Incognito, John Jerry, and Mike Pouncey. 

Incognito is gone. That will be the easiest decision for Miami and probably the NFL as a whole. John Jerry is a free agent this offseason so Miami will probably just let him walk and move on. The tough decision is with Pouncey. Pouncey was elected to his first Pro Bowl this year, and is a rising star in Miami. Not to mention that the Dolphins offensive line was a disaster this season. The Dolphins could cut Pouncey and rid themselves of everything to do with this mess, but realistically they will probably fine Pouncey and he will receive some sort of suspension. 

This situation has been messy for the Dolphins, but it looks as it could be coming to a close. If you would like to view the Wells’ report the link is provided here.

Zachary Cintron is a pre-junior in Drexel's Sport Management program with a minor in Music Theory and Composition.  Zach also writes for his personal blog, Sports and Music Weekly. You can follow Zach on Twitter at @cintronz.

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