Sean Kugler in filing: Cardinals firing him was ‘miscommunication’ or ‘mistaken identity’

Dec 16, 2022, 10:15 AM | Updated: 11:00 am

Offensive line coach Sean Kugler of the Arizona Cardinals fist bumps Rodney Hudson #61 after a play...

Offensive line coach Sean Kugler of the Arizona Cardinals fist bumps Rodney Hudson #61 after a play during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

Former Arizona Cardinals offensive line coach and run game coordinator Sean Kugler in a legal filing called allegations that he inappropriately touched a female security guard in Mexico City in November “unsubstantiated.”

In a statement released by his lawyers, Kugler said he was fired due to a “miscommunication” or because of “mistaken identity.”

“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 the release. “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.

“There are incredible people that work in the game – from league level to my players, fellow coaches and incredible support staff. I simply want to get back to doing what I love and would like my family to have peace.”

The Cardinals organization released the following in response to the legal filing:

“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.”

Kugler’s lawyers at Shields Petitti filed a request for arbitration on Wednesday, they said in the release. That was the same day the Cardinals announced general manager Steve Keim stepped away from the team for health-related reasons, the latest in a series of losses to the team’s football staff this year.

It claims Kugler was fired without conducting a thorough investigation or interviewing him.

“The allegations against Coach Kugler are simply untrue and have caused Sean, his wife and family enormous personal and professional damage,” lawyer Michael Petitti said in a statement. “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 Arizona Republic’s Bob McManaman was first to report that Kugler was fired after an “incident” in Mexico City. ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss then reported that sources said Mexican authorities were told Kugler groped a woman, and those authorities then contacted the Cardinals.

Kugler was sent home before the Nov. 21 Monday Night Football game.

The Cardinals hired Kugler before head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s first season in 2019, and the assistant was promoted to run game coordinator in June 2021.

Kugler, who Kingsbury had called a “run game savant,” has been an assistant in the NFL with the Detroit Lions (2001-05), Buffalo Bills (2007-09), Pittsburgh Steelers (2010-12) and Denver Broncos (2018).

He was also head coach at UTEP from 2013-17.

The departure left yet another position group without an assistant. Arizona put running backs coach James Saxon on leave and eventually fired him after he was charged with domestic battery in Indiana that dated back to May.

Saxon pled guilty to one count of domestic battery last month.

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