Feely 'never felt wanted' despite record season
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
|George Gojkovich/Getty Images|
|Despite having one of the best seasons in team history, Jay Feely will not be kicking field goals for the Dolphins this year.|
The first line of Jay Feely's bio in this year's Miami Dolphins media guide says he "put together not only the most accurate season of his career, but also in Dolphins history."
The Dolphins cut Feely this morning.
"I got a visit from the Turk," Feely told ESPN.com. "I never thought after my best year I'd meet him for the first time."
Feely, an eight-year veteran, saw the move coming for months. He disclosed his offseason meetings with football operations boss Bill Parcells and head coach Tony Sparano were edgy.
"I definitely never felt wanted there," Feely said. "I knew if young guys did well it was inevitable. They're looking to get younger and cheaper."
Unless the Dolphins decide to bring in another kicker, undrafted rookie Dan Carpenter from Division I-AA Montana has won the job. Feely, 32, had been bothered by a strained hip flexor but insisted if it were the regular season he wouldn't be held out of practice.
Feely already has received calls from interested teams, but he declined to reveal them. He predicted he would have six or seven potential future employers to choose from.
Feely set a Dolphins record last year by making 21 of 23 field-goal attempts. His 91.3 percent success rate ranked third in the NFL. He made one from 53 yards, the second longest of his career. His misses were from 48 yards (in the Wembley Stadium muck) and 47 yards.
"You want to be respected when you feel like you've earned that, when you try every day to do the right things," Feely said. "I never got in trouble. I love my family, love my teammates.
"When you try to make all the right decisions and perform well, you want the coaches to reflect that in the way they treat you. That obviously wasn't the case."
All four of the Dolphins' captains from last year's miserable campaign are gone. The others were quarterback Trent Green, linebacker Zach Thomas and defensive end Jason Taylor.
"We were 1-15, so that showed a lack of leadership," Feely said Sparano told him. "But I can't think of three other guys I'd want to be my captains.
"When you sit down for the first time with the head coach and he tells you in his mind it's a negative that you were a captain last year and that they're not thrilled with you, and then Bill Parcells comes out and specifically says there's going to be competition there when you were second in NFL, that tells you a lot."
The Dolphins brought in two kickers to compete with Feely. Dave Rayner was released in June.
One of the knocks on Feely last year was his kickoff distance, but he often was asked to kick short to prevent the possibility of a long return against the Dolphins' shoddy coverage. Feely actually finished seventh on the team with five special teams tackles, including three in one game.
But what doomed Feely wasn't really his foot. It probably had more to do with his mouth.
There's an old-school football chestnut that kickers should be seen and not heard, a sentiment Parcells adheres to. Feely, however, was the team's media ambassador during a 1-15 season.
He was a popular guest on local and national TV shows, was known to call in a sports radio show like a regular listener would and didn't hesitate to post a reader comment to a newspaper blog.
"I think that influenced their perception of me from the outset," Feely said. "But any time I've ever done interviews, I've always been an advocate for my head coach. Nobody can find anything negative that I said towards my teammates or my coaches.
"When Coach [Cam] Cameron brought me in last year, he told me he said 'I not only think you'll be a great kicker, but I want you to be a leader on the team and a vocal leader for the team.' So that was the role that I played.
"When [the new Dolphins administration] asked me to not be so vocal, to not be a leader, I was surprised, but I was willing to do what my coaches wanted me to do."