The continued aftermath of the Miami Dolphins' locker room issues has led to furthered talks from the NFL and the NFLPA on what standards could be drawn out to prevent hazing and help guarantee a professional environment for all NFL locker rooms without dampening the positive locker room environments that currently exist on teams.
The meeting this past Tuesday was one where NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, expressed the league's responsibility for a professional work environment. Goodell continued in his statement saying that the NFL wants to work with its players to develop rules that allow players to be comfortable in their own locker room but simultaneously guarantee an environment where they can focus on their jobs.
The Miami Dolphins' fiasco that involved Richie Incognito, Jonathan Martin and others on the team has made the NFL more cautious about locker room environment issues which has increased the league's activity in becoming more involved in such areas. The near future of the NFL could see new policies in place as a more tangible effort on the league to, albeit somewhat reactionary rather then preventative, clamp down on hazing practices and other unprofessional locker room behavior.
Meanwhile, Mike Tomlin does not seem to be the biggest proponent of universal changes.
"I want structure without the feel of structure," Tomlin said. "I want everybody in the building to know what it is that we are doing, what our focus is, what is acceptable and what is unacceptable and cultivate an environment that fuels that."
By all accounts the Pittsburgh Steelers have, and have had, the best model of how a professional NFL locker room should operate. While veteran players do maintain leadership roles over rookies and younger players, players are given the respect they deserve and the locker room almost always seems intact.
While some news stories may garner a high rate of attention from media outlets when locker room issues are discussed within the Steelers' organization, they have always been few in number and small in scale compared to the issues of other organizations in the league.
Recent stories such as the infamous and anonymous locker room commentary of LaMarr Woodley's weight last offseason always draw attention to the Steelers' organization and beg the question: "has the Steelers' traditional locker room integrity been compromised?"
This question can be answered by many observances of the team in this season alone. After a 2-6 start to the season and a devastating loss to the Patriots, much talk was made of trading team leader Troy Polamalu away and about giving up on the season; yet the team rallied together to finish 6-2 and a toe-knuckle away from the playoffs. The team lost its most veteran wide receiver and its biggest name at the linebacker position, yet nothing but positive comments were given from either side on both accounts.
However way you spin it, the Steelers have been, and continue to be, the model for how an organization and a locker room can and should operate. Coach Tomlin's comments are a perfect reflection on how you don't need new universal policies to protect the same principals that all organizations should work to make their players uphold.