As T-Mac chronicled back in December, Jason Avant is one of the most respected voices in the Eagles’ locker room.
DeSean Jackson called Avant a “big brother.” Cary Williams said every NFL team needs a guy like Avant on its roster. During the Riley Cooper incident last summer, it was Avant who stood in his teammate’s corner and preached forgiveness.
So it probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the veteran wide receiver is one of the players commissioner Roger Goodell is leaning on in the aftermath of the Wells report and the disaster down in Miami.
This from Peter King of The MMQB:
“Commissioner,’’ highly respected Philadelphia wide receiver Jason Avant told Goodell in a recent meeting, “we need you to set standards. We need you to make it black and white. We need standards, and if we don’t meet them, we shouldn’t be here.”
In the past 60 days, Goodell, I’m told, has met with more than 30 players, asking them how to make the locker room a more tolerant, more professional place. Players like Avant have told Goodell what he needs to hear. (He confirmed to me Sunday night that he asked Goodell to set standards for the players in the league, so publicly they’re not all painted with the Incognito brush.)
The last sentence there is an important one. While the one positive from the Dolphins situation is that there will be changes upcoming, it's also unfair to assume every locker room has the same culture as the one in Miami with Richie Incognito, Jonathan Martin and others.
Mark Schlereth of ESPN.com played in the league for 12 years and had a poignant take on the situation:
But, in light of the Incognito/Martin story, people would have you believe that you have to be some raving lunatic to play in the NFL, wound so tightly that the slightest spark will insight an insatiable inferno. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
I'm 48 years old now and about the least confrontational person you'll ever meet. My fists have never found purchase on the flesh of another man's face. I've never been in a fight. If someone falls short of their obligation to our family, I have my wife call to rectify the situation because it makes me so uncomfortable. Yet I succeeded for many years in the trenches of the NFL, in which there are several confrontations on every play. It can be done -- through focus, effort and discipline, not through unbridled rage and hair-trigger emotional outbursts.
Ex-player Matt Bowen offered the following:
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) February 14, 2014
And this from Packers offensive lineman TJ Lang:
Please don't stereotype NFL players for what's going on with Miami. That type of stuff is not common in other locker rooms.
— TJ Lang (@TJLang70) February 14, 2014
Again, it's dangerous to label this as an isolated incident because clearly changes need to be made. But several players also were as bothered by the incident as fans and media members.
NFL coaches and general managers will travel to Indianapolis this week and will hold press conferences on Thursday and Friday at the combine. Locker room culture and the situation in Miami will undoubtedly be a popular topic.