Kevin O’Neill, the longtime Miami Dolphins trainer fired in the wake of the team’s bullying scandal, is firing back at the franchise through his lawyer.
Attorney Jack Scarola issued a statement Thursday on behalf of O’Neill, who in the recently released report of investigator Ted Wells is accused of laughing at inappropriate jokes aimed at offensive tackle Jonathan Martin and an unnamed assistant trainer.
O’Neill accompanied Dolphins executives, coaches and scouts to last month’s scouting combine in Indianapolis, but was fired on the eve of the annual event.
Scarola said the Wells report “comes nowhere near supporting the decision of the Dolphins’ management to sack Mr. O’Neill.
“Instead,” he wrote, “it demonstrates that Kevin O’Neill was improperly singled out to placate an understandable public outcry for action in response to what was publicly portrayed as intolerable workplace bullying.”
In the 148-page report, O’Neill is referenced in two incidents.
-- He is accused of laughing “from time to time” at unspecified vulgar comments about Martin’s sister.
-- He reportedly “laughed at some of the racial insults” directed at his assistant trainer, who is of Asian descent.
Scarola wrote that “if Kevin O’Neill laughed at the ribald locker room humor at Jonathan Martin’s expense, he was not alone. Martin himself admitted that his own response to the harsh teasing to which he was subjected was 'to laugh it off.' Martin never reported or complained about the harassment to anyone, including Kevin O’Neill. In fact, when Martin was not laughing, his response was to ignore the teasing without ever challenging the offending teammates.
"If Mr. O’Neill laughed, and if Mr. O’Neill at other times ignored the vulgar 'humor' to which Mr. Martin was subjected, then Kevin O’Neill was doing exactly what Jonathan Martin was doing and exactly what, by all appearances, Jonathan Martin wanted done.”