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After just 13 games, the Jacksonville Jaguars decided to fire first-year coach Urban Meyer early on Thursday morning. Meyer’s tenure in Jacksonville was marred with incident after incident, but things ramped up over the last week when reports surfaced detailing Meyer’s treatment of both his players and assistant coaches, painting a picture of an organization that was fed up with his actions at all levels.
However, the most damning story to come up (and the one that ultimately proved to be the finishing blow to Meyer’s time with the Jaguars) was reported on Wednesday by the Tampa Bay Times just hours before Meyer’s dismissal. Former Jags kicker Josh Lambo told the newspaper that when he was with the team, Meyer approached him in warm-ups, called him a “dips—” and told him to “make his f—ing kicks” before kicking him in the hamstring.
Lambo allegedly told Meyer to never kick him again, and Meyer’s response was “I’m the head ball coach, I’ll kick you whenever the f–k I want.”
In an interview with First Coast News on Wednesday night, Lambo elaborated on the incident, explaining why he chose to go public now. The interview was conducted before Meyer’s dismissal.
“He said if there is a source, that person is out of a job,” Lambo said. “I don’t remember the quote, but that is in essence was what he said. I don’t think he can deny that, and that’s what he did to me in August. It’s just unacceptable to intimate people into your narrative.
“He’s trying to shut everybody else up and he tried to shut me up once. I want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“Truthfully, I wanted to get it on record and see what happens, honestly. I’m not suing the Jaguars right now. I’m not trying to be negative toward the Jaguars at all. Again, I have a deep-felt appreciation for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the community.”
Though Lambo isn’t suing the Jaguars, he did reach out to the team’s legal counsel regarding the incident. He claims he never heard back from them, and the team disputed that.
“Jaguars legal counsel indeed acknowledged and responded immediately to the query made by Josh Lambo’s agent Friday, August 27, 2021,” the Jaguars said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. “Counsel offered to speak with Josh, or to assist Josh in speaking with coaching or any other football personnel, if he was comfortable with her sharing the information. Any suggestion otherwise is blatantly false.”
The fact that the team has been aware of these allegations since August but didn’t act on them until they were made public raises a lot of questions about the decision-making from those above Meyer, and this likely isn’t the last we’ve heard of this story.
Lambo says he didn’t speak out at the team out of fear of reprisal, as Meyer threatened to release him if he challenged him again. He said he believes the coach is unfit for an NFL job.
“My observation of it was he couldn’t stand being challenged,” Lambo said. “His manhood, his pride and his ego were challenged, and so he threatened me. He threatened my job, my livelihood so how was I supposed to come out and say that in preseason? I still need to make my money, make my living and I didn’t feel I could say that and keep my job.
“For me, I would say completely unfit and that is my observation from what I saw day in and day out for a lot of months this year. The way that he treats the guys in the locker room, there’s this pompous nature that he has that he can get away with anything. You know, I see myself as a Jaguar. And I certainly don’t see him that way.”
Lambo again reiterated that his going public with the story wasn’t intended to hurt the franchise but rather shed light on misbehavior from a coach he didn’t believe had the players’ best interests in mind.
“I feel like I’ve embodied the Jacksonville Jaguars DNA since I’ve been here,” he said. “I hope the fans have seen that, people in the community have seen that. I’m not trying to start a war with anybody. I’m not trying to pick a fight. But if someone’s going to pick a fight with my people, I’m not going to back down. And that’s why I feel that what I’m doing is not only acceptable, but important. I want the Jaguars to do well. I want that franchise to do well. As far as I’m concerned, they deserve a lot better.”
Meyer denies that the kicking incident occurred as described, and he claimed there were multiple eyewitnesses to refute Lambo’s account of events in a statement given to the Tampa Bay Times.
“Josh’s characterization of me and this incident is completely inaccurate, and there are eyewitnesses to refute his account,” Meyer said. “(General manager) Trent (Baalke) and I met with him on multiple occasions to encourage his performance, and this was never brought up. I was fully supportive of Josh during his time with the team and wish him nothing but the best.”
With Meyer gone, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will take over as interim head coach, and the Jags will look to put one of the most disastrous chapters — even for a franchise that has had a lot of them — in their history behind them.