Former Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo has alleged in comments to the Tampa Bay Times that Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer kicked him during a warmup in the week leading up to their preseason finale against the Dallas Cowboys, adding to the cascade of reputational damage incurred by Meyer in his first NFL season.
"I'm in a lunge position. Left leg forward, right leg back," Lambo told the Times. "... Urban Meyer, while I'm in that stretch position, comes up to me and says, 'Hey dips---, make your f---ing kicks!' And kicks me in the leg."
"It certainly wasn't as hard as he could've done it, but it certainly wasn't a love tap," Lambo added. "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---ing kick me again!' And his response was, 'I'm the head ball coach, I'll kick you whenever the f--- I want.' "
Meyer flatly refuted the allegation in a statement to the 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."
The Jaguars and Lambo's agent, Richard Irvin, confirmed that Jaguars legal counsel was made aware of the exchange, per The Times' report. However, Lambo told the Times he has "no recollection of being able to speak with the Jags' legal team."
The Jaguars released the following statement to the Times: "Jaguars legal counsel indeed acknowledged and responded immediately to the query made by Josh Lambo's agent Friday, August 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."
Lambo, who characterized Meyer as a bully, also told The Times that other players witnessed the incident, but declined to name them because he said he did not want to involve them. Lambo was the Jaguars' kicker for four years prior to Meyer's arrival, and converted field goals at a rate of 90% or better in each of those seasons. But he missed his first three attempts this season before Meyer released him.
According to Lambo, Meyer approached him in the team facility the morning following the incident, threatening to cut the kicker if he ever spoke to the coach in the same manner in which he responded to being kicked.
"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 said.
Meyer, whose team is 2-11 in his first year as an NFL coach, recently refuted parts of a report by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero that described more bullying behavior, including an admonishment of his coaching staff in which he called his assistants "losers."
Lambo said he felt compelled to speak out after seeing reports of Meyer's problems with players and coaches. The coach has drawn criticism for the way he's handled coaching decisions, such as benching standout running back James Robinson, and for an argument with veteran wide receiver Marvin Jones, both of which were addressed in Pelissero's report.
Jones spoke Wednesday about his altercation with Meyer, stating they "handled it like grown men."