The Dolphins today fired longtime and respected head athletic trainer Kevin O'Neill. The club has given no reason for the move but it seems clear this is fallout from the Wells report.
But here's the thing:
The Dolphins flew O'Neill to Indianapolis for the NFL combine. And fired him there this afternoon.
At this hour, O'Neill is sitting in his room in Indianapolis. Shocked. Stunned. Upset.
He declined to speak with me when I called.
I am told O'Neill, whose reputation around the NFL is otherwise impeccable, feels he was mischaracterized in the Wells report. That report states O'Neill was uncooperative with investigator Ted Wells. It states he was aware of some of the behavior that Wells concludes was harassing of both offensive tackle Jonathan Martin and assistant athletic trainer Naohisa Inoue.
Obviously, that's the Wells version. O'Neill declined to speak and thus defend himself from those conclusions. But a source close to O'Neill tells me the trainer completely rejects the notion he was aware what was happening and, in some instances according to the report, laughed at the behavior. He believes he's been wronged by this report.
By the way, none of this excuses the Dolphins for the manner in which they are handling this. Good, bad or indifferent, O'Neill is an 18-year employee of this organization. His tenure dates back to Jimmy Johnson as the head coach. This is not the way to handle a firing of such an employee.
The report has been out for days. ESPN's Chris Mortensen was the first to report this firing early this afternoon.
And the Dolphins aren't commenting and apparently had no actual plan for doing this the right way. Otherwise, why let O'Neill fly 1,200 miles away from home to get rid of him?