The effort to change the locker-room culture apparently will focus on the manner in which players treat other players. One member of the NFLPA Executive Committee believes that the effort should be broader than that.
“Coaches must be held to the same standards as players,” Cardinals kicker and 2013 NFL Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year finalist Jay Feely tells PFT. “The most verbally abusive language always comes from the coaches.”
He’s right; but when it comes from coaches, it’s accepted with a shrug as an old-school method for getting the most out of players. Still, the example the coaches set when interacting with players sends a strong message to the players about the manner in which they can interact among themselves.
“Whether it’s the locker room, the classroom, on the field, or with the referees coaches are always the most verbally abusive,” Feely said.
It’s not universal, to be sure. Men like Tony Dungy make their points without disrespecting those around them. But to the extent a culture change is need, a deeply-engrained mindset that celebrates coaches who rant and rave and act like overgrown toddlers must be abandoned.
“I was unequivocal with Roger [Goodell] when we met that it must be a uniform policy,” Feely said. “If you don’t hold coaches to the same standards, then it’s nothing more than a P.R. campaign.”
Actually, it feels more like a risk-management campaign. And while the league office and most teams believe anything a coach says or does can be defended under the “equal opportunity a-hole” theory, if the goal is to remove the a-holes from the locker room, the effort needs to apply to any and all a-holes who may be in there — regardless of whether they prey on some of the players or all of them.