The NFL is not a law firm or a business office, and nobody is expecting it to be. There will always be jokes and ribbing that you won't see accountants give each other from their cubicles.
But the NFL is a workplace. Many people don't stop to think about that. The NFL is larger than life, but it's still life. Players are at those facilities because that's their job.
The Miami Dolphins had a hostile workplace environment, to say the least. And with the release of the Wells Report outlining Dolphins acting badly in the harassment of Jonathan Martin, and NFL draft prospect Michael Sam (who announced he is gay) entering the league, now is a good time for the league to get a handle on its locker rooms. Don't sterilize them, but also get rid of some of the frat house foolishness.
Peter King of MMQB.com reported that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has met with more than 30 players as he tries to institute behavior policies to make NFL locker rooms a more professional place. Something more fitting of a workplace.
“Commissioner,’’ Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant told Goodell in a recent meeting, according to MMQB.com, “we need you to set standards. We need you to make it black and white. We need standards, and if we don’t meet them, we shouldn’t be here.”
Vice president of player engagement Troy Vincent and NFL czar of human resources, Robert Gulliver, also were involved in the meetings, King wrote. The story said the new behavior policy won't eliminate all bonding type of things, like making rookies sing their college fight song, but will eliminate the behavior that turns the locker room into a hostile workplace environment.
It's a fine line. ESPN's Mark Schlereth, a former NFL offensive lineman, did a great job pointing out that parts of the locker room culture are necessary while solid leadership usually weeds out the bad elements (something that was obviously missing in Miami). But the NFL, especially with Sam coming in and the media attention that's to follow, doesn't want a repeat of the Miami situation. Ever. The best way is to set long overdue standards. The NFL can make sure it doesn't turn its locker rooms into sterile offices while still making sure its players show respect for each other.
It's not just a locker room, it's also a workplace environment. The NFL will make sure it's treated as such from now on. That's a good thing.
- - - - - - -