Jason Avant epitomizes character and class. There is something different about #81 and it shows on and off the field. A far cry from the last player to wear that number. Last summer when fellow Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper found himself in dangerous waters, it was Avant who stood beside Coop with forgiveness and mercy. As other players were quick to build up walls, Avant was the first to embrace Coop on his first day back to practice. During a time when Avant had every reason to be angry he chose grace.
On Tuesday morning twitter feeds blew up with the news of the Eagles parting ways with beloved WR Jason Avant. The 30-year old Avant has spent 8 seasons in midnight green, drafted by the Eagles in 2006. The third longest-tenured Eagle on the team.
As the Eagles were quick to re-sign WR's Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin it seemed as if the writing was on the wall for Avant. Despite the absence of Jeremy Maclin last season Avant's numbers dipped in Chip Kelly's offense as Cooper's numbers skyrocketed. Avant, with some of the surest hands in the league, has made a living moving the chains. Last season Avant did more blocking than catching but nonetheless was ALWAYS a team player.
Avant will no doubt be remembered for his hands, for making some ridiculous one handed catches where the ball just stuck like glue. Every time he made a catch you couldn't help but put your hands in the air with him. But most of all he will be remembered for the remarkable teammate and man that he was and is. For his work ethic, his selflessness, his leadership, his character, and his faith.
After becoming a Christian during his sophomore year at the University of Michigan Avant has lived out his faith on and off the field. Hosting Christian football camps in the summer for inner city kids in Chicago and Camden, NJ and leading by example in the locker room.
"My relationship with God has not changed since I became a professional athlete. God has been shaping me since May 4, 2003. In college, a lot of my teammates thought that I would flunk out of school because I did more reading of my Bible than I did of other books. I always ended up with a high GPA, but I was preparing in the Word so that when I got to the NFL God had already groomed me to stand out and be different. The NFL has the influence because there are so many different things going on that if your character isn’t right, it will consume you. That's what Christ does for me. He keeps my mind at a level plane so that when I see the janitor or the security guard, they’re the same as me."
Jason Avant will surely be missed for more than just incredible catches.