Mutual respect between players, culture of teammates inside a locker room and rookie hazing have been some of the hottest topics in the
NFL since the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga broke during the 2013 NFL season. This offseason, Roger Goodell and co has put an increased emphasis on enforcing what they are calling “a culture of respect” onto teams and players.
One way they are doing this is by sending ex-players in to NFL locker rooms to discuss the “culture of respect” the NFL is trying to establish.
One such player is Aeneas Williams, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals. According to Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report, the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Famer has put an emphasis on changing how players speak to each other and Williams’ message was simple: “If a word offends anyone, then it shouldn’t be used.”
According to Freeman, Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams, who played for the Cardinals for 10 years, specifically asked players not to use the N-word, and also asked them not to play music containing the word.
"We have an opportunity to be more deliberate in creating a culture of respect," said the NFL's chief human resources executive Robert Gulliver.
How Falcons players reacted to Williams message isn’t known yet, but there was a similar meeting this week in Arizona with the Cardinals, and a player on that team said the overall message of the cause was "very good and very needed. The team responded well to it."
Donovin Darius, a former safety for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Patrick Kerney another former Atlanta man were also present at the meeting with the Falcons to address the situation and what they wanted to happen. The event isn’t intended to be a series of lectures but more an open discussion between the league appointed former players and the teams, as well as coaches.
The Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito situation bought a whole horde of media storm and public backlash and Roger Goodell and his other execs are doing as much as possible to avoid a repeat of the situation. It’s still unknown if it will be a success however, locker room culture is pretty deeply ingrained in sports and it will take more than just a chat with a former player to change that.