Avant calls for NFL to behave more like a 'parent'

Avant calls for NFL to behave more like a 'parent'
February 18, 2014, 2:00 pm
Share This Post

In a column published Tuesday, Jason Avant used the Eagles' response to Riley Cooper's use of a racial slur to illustrate how an NFL locker room can be a force for good, contrasting that situation with what's happened in Miami with Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. (USA Today Images)

It's oft been repeated in the midst of the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin scandal that those individuals who aren't a part of the NFL can't understand its locker-room culture.

Well, Jason Avant is an eight-year veteran, and even he thinks some changes need to be made.

In a guest column for MMQB.com, Avant described his shock at some of the details shared in Ted Wells' investigation into the Incognito-Martin incident, using the report to openly question whether or not NFL players deserve the freedom to police themselves and construct a locker room culture so far removed from the rest of society.

Avant makes a point to claim that not all locker rooms are like Miami's. He uses the Eagles' own culture -- and own recent controversy -- to illustrate his point.

"In Philadelphia, our franchise has had some great leaders. The spirit of Brian Dawkins, Brian Westbrook and Troy Vincent live on," he writes. "Their names are mentioned a lot in organizational meetings, and Dawkins can come speak to the team any time he wants. We also have an owner, Jeffrey Lurie, who is hands-on and cordial; he has lunch with some players, and always discusses the mindset and the standards that those earlier guys raised — and I think that standard is extremely important.

"Why? Look at what happened this season with one of our receivers, Riley Cooper, who was caught on video using the ‘n’ word at a concert. That incident had the potential to divide us. Instead, because of strong team leadership, we worked through the issue together; we forgave Riley and we we able to grow, both as a team and as individuals—Riley included."

Avant mentions midway through the article that he met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last month to discuss what kind of changes can be made when it comes to player education. Avant specifically criticizes the NFL rookie symposium -- an event he endorses -- for only being available to drafted players. He goes on to argue that all players should be required to attend that kind of workshop.

Also of focus in the article is the diverse array of individual backgrounds that make up the NFL, an especially relevant point given the ongoing conversation about the league would accept an openly gay player like Missouri's Michael Sam.

In general, Avant believes the NFL needs to begin acting less like a mere employer more like a positive influence -- more like a "parent."

"Right now the NFL has an opportunity. We know this is a league that’s all about making money and all about winning, but here’s a chance for us to demonstrate that we’re more than that. The NFL can be more than just an employer. It can be a parent. With proper structure in place, the NFL can be a support system for someone in the same situation Jonathan Martin was in, and also provide a helping hand to those who hazed him. We can educate young men on the merits of tolerance, and also the value of holding ourselves to higher standards. It can help mold us into productive members of society when we leave this league. Aren’t those the values we want for our kids?"

To read the full article, visit MMQB.com.