BOSTON (CBS) — In the wake of Tom Brady defeating Roger Goodell and the NFL in court, and really over the past few months as the NFL exposed a series of lies and deceitfulness throughout the process, many folks have come out of the woodwork to express their own feelings of being railroaded by the league.
That includes two key former employees of the Dolphins who are still very upset with how they were treated and discarded after what they feel to have been a very unfair investigation by Ted Wells. One is the former offensive line coach, who we’ve known about for months. But a new person emerged Friday, specifically after Brady beat Goodell in court.
The Sun-Sentinel in Miami interviewed former Dolphins trainer Kevin O’Neill, who was named the NFL’s Trainer of the Year shortly after he was fired by the Dolphins after Wells targeted him for a failure to cooperate during the investigation.
News of O’Neill’s lawsuit against the Dolphins has been known for months, but he unveiled some startling details in his interview with the Sun-Sentinel.
O’Neill said the only offense he committed was following protocol by requiring any player to sign a HIPAA form before the trainer would be allowed to share medical records. Without a HIPAA form signed by a player, O’Neill could not lawfully discuss their medical records.
After O’Neill raised these concerns with Wells’ team, he was asked to give copies of the medical reports to Wells, despite no HIPAA forms being signed.
“I said, ‘You guys are attorneys, you shouldn’t be asking me about this, and I can’t answer it without proper documentation,'” O’Neill recalled to the Sun-Sentinel.
O’Neill then ended the interview, and as a result he was targeted by Wells for not cooperating. Somewhat ironically, one could surmise that O’Neill was essentially bullied by Wells.
The Wells report picked on O’Neill, specifically:
“… head trainer Kevin O’Neill, who allegedly even laughed at some of the racial insults.” (page 23)
” … Martin and other players claimed that O’Neill , the head trainer, not only overheard the racist insults, but also sometimes laughed along and never intervened. We did not cover this specific topic in our interview with O’Neill, which was cut short because O’Neill expressed hostility to ward our investigation.” (page 45)
“On one occasion, according to Martin, O’Neill pulled him aside and told him he was too nice and needed to stand up for himself more.” (page 74)
O’Neill was the first person fired by the Dolphins after Wells released his report.
That report, O’Neill noted, failed to disclose information that Jonathan Martin punched assistant trainer Naohisa Inoue.
“If you have several investigators making hundreds of dollars each an hour and interviewing everyone in the building, shouldn’t you find that?”O’Neill said. “It turns out [Martin] is the only one who hit someone.”
O’Neill also pointed out that Wells’ report did not include Martin’s attempted suicide.
Given that such information was either omitted or not discovered by Wells, it adds to the belief that the NFL hires Wells solely to find somebody guilty — not to run an “independent” investigation. The NFL, in its fight with Tom Brady, even stopped referring to that investigation as independent, claiming such a distinction was “irrelevant.”
Of course, it’s far from irrelevant, and in the case of O’Neill, it cost him his job. He remains unemployed, and he and his lawyers are planning their next step. That’s a difficult proposition, considering a judge ruled this week that the man who can choose an arbitrator for O’Neill’s case against the Dolphins is none other than Roger Goodell.
O’Neill might hope Goodell appoints himself, because even though the unemployed former trainer may not have the bankroll of Tom Brady or the powerful backing of the NFLPA, it that might be the best chance for O’Neill to have a chance of winning if his case ever makes it to a real court.