Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant has long been known as one of the most respectful members of the Philadelphia organization. A fourth-round draft pick of the team in 2006 after overcoming a rough, gang-influenced childhood, the reserve pass catcher earned the Eagles' Ed Block Courage Award last season and has been praised for his good sportsmanship for years. When his father was a victim of a fatal car crash in April, fans felt deeply for his loss, and none other than Avant called the Eagles together for a players-only meeting to rally behind criticized coach Andy Reid earlier this year. The 28-year-old veteran made some headlines with recent statements about the team's success, but should fans really be upset with his comments?
Avant was hesitant to embrace the increase of support the team has when recently asked to reflect on the Eagles' turnaround--the Birds have won two straight after dropping four in a row. "We look at home games like road games," he said after Sunday night's 34-7 rout of the rival Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field. "We like to get booed by our fans...we realize it's going to be just these guys in the locker room, that's the way we take it. We don't want people jumping on our bandwagon now. We want people to go out and still talk bad about us."
The way Avant worded his opinion in an open statement to the media, it isn't surprising that some have already begun to react in a, say, less-than-pleased attitude. Jimmy Kempski, for example, who writes over at SB Nation's Bleeding Green Nation, took issue with Avant's comments and how they seem to be directed right at the thousands of fans who understandably doubted the Eagles early in the season. I understand exactly what Jimmy's trying to say, and his thoughts probably echo that of countless others, but was Avant, one of the noticeably superb off-the-field Eagles, really trying to bash those who spend their hard-earned time and money on a team they so dearly want to win a championship?
Perhaps Avant truly wants "bandwagon" fans to steer clear of the Eagles; after all, in his eyes, members of the national media are steadily turning their attention back to Philly and the "Dream Team" that faltered from the start of the season. Was he wrong to suggest the Eagles like their fans jeering at home and giving them little support? I have to believe he could have crafted his statements a bit better, but with the emotion he was feeling following such an important win over a division rival in Week 8, it isn't crazy to think he was caught up in the moment and simply supporting his teammates, who have, in fact, not given up over the last few weeks of what's been nothing short of an interesting season.
Avant has been a class act in the City of Brotherly Love--both on and off the football field--for so long that it's hard to criticize him for his recent comments. Anyone that's followed him in recent seasons should know he'd be the last player on the team to say something against his teammates, coaches, or fans. I completely understand the "admiration should be earned, not expected" argument in regards to Avant's apparent belief that fans should have never doubted the Eagles, but to make a big deal and create an entirely new storyline about the receiver's likely emotional comments is probably a mistake. In that case, I suppose I'd better stop talking about it now.