Ted Wells, the investigator hired by the NFL to look into the Miami Dolphins’ 2013 bullying scandal, has been hit with a defamation suit from former Dolphins offensive line coach Jim Turner.
The Dolphins fired Turner in the aftermath of the scandal.
Wells’ 2014 report stated that Turner contributed to an atmosphere of bullying, and “was aware of the running ‘joke’ that Player A was gay, and on at least one occasion, he participated in the taunting … Around Christmas 2012, Coach Turner gave the offensive linemen gift bags that included a variety of stocking stuffers. The gifts included inflatable female dolls for all of the offensive linemen except Player A, who received a male ‘blow-up’ doll.”
Turner’s suit targets Wells and his law firm, Paul, Weiss of New York, and alleges that the NFL commissioned Wells and Paul, Weiss to shape their report in order to leave the league and law firm essentially unharmed while attacking specific individuals such as Turner. Wells later investigated Deflategate; criticisms have been leveled that Wells did not act as an independent investigator, but as a flunkey of the NFL. Months after Wells was hired to investigate Deflategate, the NFL finally admitted that the league was not compelled to hire an independent investigator to look into the matter.
Turner’s attorney, Peter Ginsberg, asserted that Wells and Paul, Weiss elided important evidence from former and current Dolphins coaches and players. Ginsberg also thinks Wells knew the bullying accusations against Turner were false, but let them stand, leaving Turner’s reputation in shambles and incurring the former coach’s emotional distress, pain, and suffering.
Richie Incognito, who was accused of harassing Jonathan Martin, who later left the team, told Newsday that Wells did not report evidence from his teammates that would have tempered the case against Incognito. Wells admitted in his report that judging Martin’s claims was not easy, “given his mental health issues, his possible heightened sensitivity to insults and his unusual, ‘bipolar’ friendship with Incognito.”
On Monday, Martin, who retired from football this summer rather than play for the Carolina Panthers, tweeted, then deleted, “But, in the end, football was just a job, albeit a fun and well-paying one. Being in a wheelchair at 50 isn’t worth any amount of money.” He later added, “Nothin but love for my Panthers & 49ers teammates,” notably ignoring his former Dolphins teammates.
Meanwhile, Rex Ryan has named Incognito, who was suspended by the Dolphins after the 2013 scandal broke and sat out the 2014 season, a starter for the Buffalo Bills.