Jason Avant refuses to apologize for his remarks. He's more than willing to explain them.
Avant, a slot receiver certainly not known for making inflammatory comments, became the subject of wrath among Eagles fans this week after making uncharacteristic comments critical of “bandwagon fans” in an interview after the Eagles beat the Cowboys Sunday.
“We don't want people jumping on our bandwagon now,” Avant said after the Birds dismantled Dallas, 34-7. “We want people to go out and still talk bad about us.”
Avant also said: “We look at home games like road games” and, “We like to get booed by our fans.”
Avant's comments echoed those made three years earlier by Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who described Philadelphia fans this way: “You know, they're front runners. When you're doing good, they're on your side. When you're doing bad, they're completely against you.”
The Eagles (3-4) have won two straight, and will face Chicago (4-3) at the Linc on Monday night.
On Thursday, the Eagles' first day of practice since Avant made his comments, the wideout said his remarks were misunderstood.
Avant said he wasn't knocking fans, he was trying to explain that the Eagles will play through any sort of adversity they face. The Eagles seem to have recovered after losing four straight.
“I'm trying to motivate my teammates to keep focused,” Avant said. “We've got the underdog mentality, and that's my opinion... I'm a person and this is America, right? I can have an opinion, right? That's my opinion.
“I take offense when we've got signs outside (the NovaCare Complex) talking about firing coach (Andy Reid). I take offense to it so, definitely I'm not apologizing for that, but what I am saying is it was to motivate my teammates.
“When people don't understand exactly what you're saying, they'll make a big deal of it, but that's why you've got to go back to the character of the person. Do you know me to be a guy who's been outspoken or anything like that or talking about fans? Have you ever heard it? So it's just something to motivate my teammates and keep us on the right track, right mindset, underdog mentality.”
Avant, one of only nine Eagles left from the 2006 season, is considered one of the NFL's best slot receivers. He has 185 receptions for 2,284 yards and nine touchdowns in six seasons and with 31 catches for 412 yards through seven games this year is having a career year.
“This is what I do respect about Philadelphia fans: They're very, very knowledgeable, and I love playing before our fans,” Avant said. “I want to win a championship for this city so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so bad. So I respect them and I love them as fans. What I'm saying is, I go out, give everything I have and whatever was said -- which I don't even remember half of it -- it's still my opinion, no matter if it was the worst thing in the world.”
This mini-run has the Eagles now two games behind the first-place Giants (5-2) in the NFC East.
“All are welcome to root for the Eagles,” Avant said. “It's just something that I wanted to let our guys know that we have to play through any adversity. Whether people boo us, whether people talk about us, we're willing to play through hard situations, and that's what I mean by that. It's not a shot at the fans, like it was taken. More so, it's about motivating my team to say we have to be able to go out under any circumstances and play hard like we did last week.”
Discussion of Avant's remarks filled the airwaves on Philadelphia's two sports-talk radio stations the past few days, and many fans said they plan to boo Avant Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
Avant isn't concerned.
“I don't really care, you know why? Because I play my hardest,” Avant said. “I play my hardest for Jesus Christ and for this team. You going to boo me for playing hard? You going to boo me for being the guy that's going to chase down the play when nobody else is running? You going to boo me for being the guy that's doing special teams or going over the middle and taking a big shot?
“Boo me for doing what's right.”
Copyright: Associated Press