The award was presented at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, but O'Neill was not at the ceremony. His former co-worker, Troy Maurer, accepted the award on his behalf and read a statement that O'Neill had written.
According to the Professional Football Athletic Trainer's website, the honor is given to the physician "who best reflects the virtues of a certified athletic trainer and displays the highest level of professionalism.”
Dolphins offensive line coach Jim Turner was fired at the same time as O'Neill. According to Wells' report, O'Neill did not cooperate fully and “expressed hostility toward our investigation.”
O'Neill broke into the NFL in 1990 as the head trainer for the Dallas Cowboys.
"After receiving the report, I conducted my own internal review of the facts to determine the appropriate steps for our organization," Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in a statement. "Jim Turner and Kevin O'Neill are good people who care a great deal about their profession and the players whom they serve, but both exhibited poor judgment at times which led me to this conclusion."
The trainer for the Carolina Panthers told ESPN that physicians around the league were surprised about O'Neill’s firing.
"Kevin is a true professional who has worked for years to help NFL players reach their full potential and NFL teams reach their ultimate goal of winning," Ryan Vermillio said. "He dedicated his life to working with others."
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