Wednesday, November 8
Avery contacts team via voice mail

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 League."

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 said.

"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 him."

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.