|ATLANTA -- An assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
contacted the team Tuesday, two days after he failed to show up for
a game against the Falcons.
Wendell Avery left an early morning message with the club via
voice mail, Buccaneers spokesman Reggie Roberts said.
"Because of the extremely personal nature of this situation, it
would be inappropriate to comment on the specifics of the contact
at this time," Roberts said in a statement.
"We continue to be very concerned about coach Avery and his
family, and we remain in close contact with the Atlanta police
department and security officials from the National Football
John Quigley, a spokesman for the Atlanta police, said on Wednesday that the
44-year-old Avery is still considered missing. Investigators wanted
to talk with the coach before revoking an alert asking for the
public's help in locating him.
Avery is not wanted and he has committed no crime, Quigley
"We want to make contact with him. All he has to do is flag
down a police officer on the street," Quigley said. "At this point, it's
like a welfare check. We want to make sure he is OK and that he is making
decisions on his own."
Foul play was not suspected, Quigley said.
Avery's family in Corpus Christi, Texas,
which includes his father, Elmo, said they had not heard from Avery and did not know
where he was.
"We really don't know what's going on," said Frederick
Shaw, Avery's cousin. "We don't understand it at all. We keep waiting for
him to call to let us know where he is. Everything runs through your mind,
all these bad things that could have happened to
Avery, in his second season as an offensive assistant for Tampa
Bay, was last seen by the team Saturday night at an Atlanta hotel.
He attended a staff meeting about 15 hours before the Bucs kicked
off against the Falcons.
Quigley said Avery's cell phone was used to make a call about 11
a.m. Sunday, two hours before kickoff. When he did not show for the
game at the Georgia Dome, team officials notified stadium security
and the police.
Coach Tony Dungy did not mention Avery's absence after the game
-- won by the Bucs 27-14 -- or at a Monday news conference.
The Bucs don't know when or even if Avery will return to the
team. His duties, which include breaking down videotape for coaching
purposes, have been divided among the offensive staff.
Avery is a former quarterback at the University of Minnesota,
where he was a teammate of Dungy and led the Gophers to their first
bowl appearance in 15 years.
Avery was a college coach for 10 seasons, including a stint as
Savannah State's head coach. He had a record of 13-9 in two years
at the Division II school in Georgia, but was fired after the 1996
season. He joined Dungy's staff in 1999.
Avery and his wife, Brenda, have two children.