- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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ORLANDO, Fla. – NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent is one of the foremost figures in the NFL addressing football culture. Vincent is a former NFL player for 15 years and has plenty of experience in locker rooms during his stints with the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills.
Improving locker-room culture has been a major topic at this year's NFL owners meetings following the high-profile bullying scandal involving the Dolphins. Vincent said he believes this week's meetings resonated with Miami and particularly head coach Joe Philbin, who vowed to spend more time connecting with his players in the locker room.
“I think that’s important, because the players want to see you,” Vincent explained Wednesday. “They want a connection. You’re their leader. They want to see their leader.
“But I will say Coach Philbin will adjust, I believe, after our conversations this week. That’s the special part about we as coaches inside of our industry. We’re flexible. We make adjustments Sunday to Sunday.”
Vincent shared his NFL experiences Wednesday. He said most head coaches he played for took enough time to talk to players away from practices.
“Coach [Don] Shula stayed in the locker room,” Vincent said of his four-year stint in Miami. “As coach [Jeff] Fisher said, you can’t coach. It’s difficult coaching if you don’t have a relationship and a connection with your players.”
Vincent said Philbin addressed the issue with his coaching peers and was genuine in his goal to improve as a head coach. Philbin was caught unaware during Miami’s bullying scandal, and much of that came from the failure to communicate enough with his players.
“As I examined some of the things as head coach of the Dolphins I can do better, I think the visibility factor can be the difference," Philbin explained Tuesday. "That's one of the things that I'm going to do. It's not that I [had] never been [visible]. But I think one of the things that happens sometimes to coaches is you're conflicted of whether I should watch that blitz tape or third-down film.
“Sometimes a better use of a head coach's time is to walk through the training room, walk through the locker room, walk through the hallways. It's not that I never done that stuff, but I think it's fair to say I'm going to do it more."