In hindsight, the hiring of Urban Meyer by the Jacksonville Jaguars might turn out to be one of the worst - if not the worst - NFL coaching hires of all-time. Meyer couldn't even make it through an entire NFL season without finding himself embroiled in controversy week after week.
While Meyer's conduct in Jacksonville has been widely criticized, the seriousness of the allegations has now increased significantly. On Tuesday, former Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo filed a lawsuit against his old franchise, alleging that Meyer created a hostile work environment and that the Jaguars organization did nothing to put an end to it.
The lawsuit, filed in the 4th Judicial Circuit Court in Duval County, alleges Meyer's conduct went far beyond verbal abuse, and that the former head coach "violated Florida civil, criminal, and employment law concerning assault, battery, and workplace violence in furtherance of an employer's interests."
In one particular incident, Lambo recalled being approached by Meyer during practice.
“I’m in a lunge position. Left leg forward, right leg back,” Lambo said. “Urban Meyer, while I’m in that stretch position, comes up to me and says, ‘Hey Dips--t, make your f--king kicks!’ And kicks me in the leg.”
“It certainly wasn’t as hard as he could’ve done it (kicked), but it certainly wasn’t a love tap. Truthfully, I’d register it as a five (out of 10). Which in the workplace, I don’t care if it’s football or not, the boss can’t strike an employee. And for a second, I couldn’t believe it actually happened. Pardon my vulgarity, I said, ‘Don’t you ever f- king kick me again!’ And his response was, ‘I’m the head ball coach, I’ll kick you whenever the f--k I want.’"
The morning after the incident, Lambo alleges that Meyer approached him once again at the training facility. “He sees me and I’m by myself and he kind of cornered me and comes up to me and says, ‘Are you going to put a smile on that face?’ ” Lambo said. “I said, ‘I’ll smile if you’ll stop kicking me.’”
“The details of the conversation I do remember, I was having issues with how he was coaching me throughout spring, throughout camp that I had kept to myself and I expressed a couple of those issues with the special teams coordinator, who related them to Urban, who seemingly halfway understood. His response was, ‘OK, you don’t like me doing this, OK. If you don’t like me doing that, fine. But if you ever speak to me like that again, you’ll be out of here. You’re the first player I’ve ever let speak to me that way in my career, and if you do it again, you’re gone.’ ”
Lambo alleges that Meyer's abuse impacted his ability to perform at the level he was able to under previous coaches. According to lawsuit, Meyer's conduct caused Lambo emotional distress that impacted his ability to sleep and perform at a high-level.
In response to the lawsuit, the Jaguars organization is reportedly referring back to a statement released in December shortly after Lambo's accusations became public.
"Jaguars legal counsel indeed acknowledged and responded immediately to the query made by Josh Lambo's agent Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. 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."
In a recent interview with USA Today Sports, Jaguars owner Shad Khan provided insight into what it was like working with Meyer.
“When you lose the respect, the trust and an issue of truthfulness, you can't work with someone like that," said Khan. "It’s not possible.”
“It was not about wins and losses. Think when you know someone is not truthful, how can you be around someone, OK? We had Doug Marrone here four years. We had Gus Bradley here four years. I have nothing but the utmost respect and friendship with them. That’s why they got the time, because it wasn’t a matter about respect or truth. It was a matter of wins and losses over four years. This is much bigger than that.”