Whenever Jason Avant decides hang them up as a player in the NFL, he's probably going to have a number of options in terms of a post-playing career in football. On Monday, Avant published an article in Sports Illustrated's "The MMQB" about how to fix NFL locker rooms. Avant was troubled by the Wells report, which detailed the bullying scandal in Miami.
There were parts of the Wells report that shocked me, especially the language that was used openly among some of the guys. I’ve heard the ‘n’ word used among African Americans, and I even find that completely unacceptable. But I’ve never heard racial slurs used so openly and so freely. The joke about shooting black people was hard to digest, and I couldn’t believe the fines the Dolphins linemen handed out. Hazing, to some extent, happens everywhere. For example, with our team, rookies are in charge of buying chicken or barbeque before road trips. The total cost is something like $100.
Avant related the situation in Miami to the Eagles' locker room.
The most important part of an NFL locker room is leadership. If there isn’t good leadership, one bad apple has potential to corrupt the bunch. In Philadelphia, our franchise has had some great leaders. The spirit of Brian Dawkins, Brian Westbrook and Troy Vincent live on. 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 were able to grow, both as a team and as individuals—Riley included.
We recently wondered if Avant's tenure in Philly could be over because his production as a player was slipping, but there's absolutely no questioning his character and leadership.