The puzzling part: Avant compares the relationship of the NFL and its players to his relationship with his children. But Avant’s children are ages 1 and 3. So it is natural that Avant and his wife discuss how much freedom to allow them and how they can earn more.
"NFL players want freedom, want to do things on our own, want to be able to say: This is our locker room, we govern our own locker room," Avant writes. "But have we proved that we’ve earned that?"
A lot of NFL players might take exception to being compared to small children in need of an NFL “parent.” The irony is that Avant is one of the most mature, thoughtful and well-rounded men you'll meet anywhere -- including the locker room of an NFL team. If Richie Incognito and the frat-boy culture revealed in Ted Wells’ report last week are at one end of the spectrum, Avant is at the opposite end.
That is why his opinion was sought out by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Avant writes that he told Goodell the league needs to do a better job of educating incoming players “about culture and how to assimilate into a workplace with such a diverse demographic.”
Avant said he was “shocked” by some of what was in the Wells report on Incognito, Jonathan Martin and the goings-on in Miami. That rings true. The media who cover the Eagles don’t have access to the players 24/7, but you see enough to get a feel for the environment and the men who work in it. It is hard to picture the kind of behavior detailed in the Wells report.
According to Avant, that environment starts with owner Jeffrey Lurie, who mingles with players in the cafeteria and talks about the traditions established by former leaders such as Troy Vincent, Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook.
"I think that standard is extremely important," Avant writes. "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.”
Avant, along with Michael Vick and DeMeco Ryans, was instrumental in leading the Eagles through that delicate situation. Lurie and Chip Kelly might have fined Cooper for his actions, but the crisis was really handled by the adults in the locker room.