Fired Cardinals coach hires law firm, requests arbitration

By David Brandt

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Recently fired Arizona Cardinals assistant coach Sean Kugler has retained a law firm to investigate the allegations that he inappropriately touched a female security guard when the team was in Mexico last month for a game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Kugler hired the law firm of Shields Pettini, which said on Friday that it has filed a request for arbitration with the NFL in response to the Cardinals’ handling of the situation, which resulted in Kugler’s firing.

The law firm claims Kugler was fired for “unsubstantiated allegations that he inappropriately touched a female security guard.”

The popular 56-year-old Kugler — who was the team’s offensive line coach and run game coordinator — had been with the team since 2019. The Cardinals were in Mexico to play the 49ers on a Monday night. The Cardinals said the incident happened on the Saturday before the game and he was sent home by the team.

“The allegations against Coach Kugler are simply untrue and have caused Sean, his wife and family enormous personal and professional damage,” said attorney Michael Pettini. “Coach and his family have been desperate to understand from the Cardinals front office and others what rationale or evidence was used to terminate him for cause.”

The firm claims the Cardinals dismissed Kugler from the organization without conducting a thorough investigation or interviewing him.

“Respecting women is a core value for me, and something I have instilled in my children and the players that I coach,” Kugler said in a statement. “The mysterious allegations by the Cardinals are untrue, and I want to clear my name. Be it a miscommunication or mistaken identity, my family and I will cooperate fully and honestly with the NFL, Cardinals, or any other agency to get to the truth in this matter and restore my reputation.”

Cardinals offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum talked with Kugler in the immediate aftermath of his firing. He said Kugler was “devastated” and that the coach was well-respected throughout the locker room.

“I don’t think anyone saw that coming at all,” Beachum added Friday.

The Cardinals released their own statement on Friday:

“As an ongoing legal matter, we are going to refrain from comment other than to say that the team is confident the process will result in a much different set of facts than those presented today and that it had good cause to terminate Mr. Kugler’s employment.”

Coach Kliff Kingsbury referred back to the team’s statement when asked about Kugler.

Kugler’s firing has been part of tumultuous season for the Cardinals (4-9), who started the season with high hopes but have lost five of their past six games.

Among the other unwanted headlines: Three-time All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins was suspended six games for violating the NFL’s rule on performance-enhancers, while franchise quarterback Kyler Murray suffered a serious knee injury last week that will cause him to miss the final four games of the season.

Also, team general manager Steve Keim began what was termed a health-related leave of absence on Thursday. Keim’s duties are being handled by Quentin Harris and Adrian Wilson, who also works in the team’s player personnel department.

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