INDIANAPOLIS — Cincinnati Bengals offensive line coach Jim Turner said he “has to be smarter” with his motivational tactics going forward after his participation in the Dolphins’ bullying scandal led to his firing following the 2013 season.
Turner was cited in the Wells report several times for not only encouraging bullying but also for inappropriate behavior such as giving his players inflatable dolls for Christmas. Turner sued Ted Wells for defamation, but that lawsuit was dismissed last year.
Turner is back in the NFL for the first time since that season after spending the past three seasons coaching the offensive line at Texas A&M. Turner also ran into trouble there when he was suspended by then-coach Kevin Sumlin for two weeks in 2013 for the use of an inappropriate slideshow at a women’s football clinic. He was kept on the staff by new coach Jimbo Fisher.
Turner said that his sense of humor can be taken the wrong way.
“Here’s what I know. I’m an Irish Catholic from Boston. I was a lieutenant in the Marine Corps. A lot of what I grew up with in my home and a lot of what I experienced in my time through college and coaching and the military, I use humor a lot to make my point,” he said. “When you’re talking to a group of men, you really have to see what’s the situation? Who are you speaking to? … When I’m standing in a room filled with Marines, it can be harsh and it can be direct as to what you want them to do. You need to make your points. I don’t see the NFL, speaking to an offensive line in the NFL, as much different. And so there are some things said sometimes that wouldn’t come out right if the average citizen walking down the street were to listen to it. Unfortunately, some of the things that I said and some of the things I did with my players had to come out. And so, moving forward, I just have to be smarter about what I do when I try to use entertainment to motivate the players.”
Turner’s relationship with Zac Taylor dates back to 2008, when the new Bengals coach was a graduate assistant at Texas A&M under father-in-law Mike Sherman. Taylor tried to hire Turner in 2016 to coach running backs when Taylor was offensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati. However, Turner left after only two weeks for another stint at Texas A&M.
“I was out the door. It was a quick exit. I’ll tell you why though: because I had a chance after my situation in Miami, I had a chance to get back. I didn’t have a line job,” Turner said. “I was out of work for two years and then I was going to come back as the running backs coach at UC. I had told everybody, including coach (Tommy) Tuberville, listen if I ever get a chance at an NFL offensive line coaching job or a major college, SEC or one of the major colleges, I hope you guys would understand if I took that. Everybody was in agreement that it would make sense for me to take that. If I didn’t take that, I wouldn’t be sitting here today. It was a good move for me. A move I needed to make. I appreciate Zac. Whenever you take these jobs, or any job for that matter, at some point when you try to make the thing right, you’re going to have to stand on the table for somebody and I appreciate him doing that. And I know he knows me to the core, so I know that he knows that I’ll come in here and do the right thing and do a good job.”
Turner, 54, said he told Fisher that he only wanted to leave for the NFL because it was Taylor making the phone call.
“My job at A&M, I probably had one of the top three offensive line jobs in the country at A&M,” he said. “So if I was at A&M for the rest of my career, I loved every second that I was at that place. Great place. It’s a great place to raise your family, and they grow money on trees down there. So it’s not a problem. It was a great job, I loved it. But I just love the challenge at this level.”
He added: “He kept me there with him and I appreciate him for that. He wanted me to stay there with him. I didn’t leave for any other reason, I told him that, I said, there’s only one reason I’m leaving and that’s because Zac got this job. If another NFL job presented itself and I didn’t know those people as well, I wouldn’t have left. There really was no reason to leave other than this.”