After the world gasped at the grotesque way some members of the Miami Dolphins treated one another in the locker room, NFL players began reaching out to tell fans that those actions were isolated, not pervasive.
Offensive tackle Eric Winston has spent eight seasons in NFL locker rooms -- six with the Houston Texans and one with the Kansas City Chiefs before joining the Arizona Cardinals in 2013. The 30-year-old told NFL Network's "NFL AM" on Wednesday that he believes most locker rooms are good places to work.
"Not every locker room is like the Dolphins, that is a very big minority part of the NFL," he said. "Most locker rooms are fun to be in, are accepting of everybody, are good with young players. There are always going to be the jokes, the getting the rookies to go buy breakfast on Saturday morning, getting the rookies to dress up on Halloween, things like that. But (Miami) is just such an outlier -- so to speak -- of what really goes on in an NFL locker room."
Winston said that the light of shame needs to be shone on the Dolphins' locker room, not NFL teams in general.
"So I think the sense that 'Oh, everything needs to change, things need to change,'" he said. "Well Miami's locker room needs to change, not everybody else's. Everybody else has been doing the right thing for a long time."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly spoke to more than 30 players in the past two months to get their opinions on how to improve the working conditions in NFL locker rooms.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant, writing for TheMMQB.com, echoed Winston's thought that most locker rooms aren't like the one in Miami. However, Avant believes the NFL still can improve the work experience.
"As for the new legislation I mentioned earlier, maybe it's harsher fines for players, or a code of conduct, or more supervision," Avant wrote. "I'm not quite sure what it will be, but I do know something is necessary ...
"With proper structure in place, the NFL can be a support system for someone in the same situation Jonathan Martin was in, and also provide a helping hand to those who hazed him. We can educate young men on the merits of tolerance, and also the value of holding ourselves to higher standards. It can help mold us into productive members of society when we leave this league. Aren't those the values we want for our kids?"