NFL16 Division Cherry Picks: What’s a Leader?

16 Jan

Leaders: They come in all shapes & sizes.

If one trait stood out in the NFL Wild Card weekend, one that separated the mice from the men, it was the importance of having a leadership on your squad, from coaches to players, in skill and sensibility. Of course, lady luck and bad karma had their hands in it, too (See; SEA @ MIN).

........Manning.wc.8.26.12.J.Beall.thmSome wear the regalia of a commander.

Four-star General George S. Patton who led US troops to victory in North Africa (‘42), Sicily (‘43) and the Battle of the Bulge (‘44) in the Western crush of Nazi Germany, wore his medals with pride but was as near as famous for the his loose-tongue and “damn the torpedoes” tactic as he was for the Allied conquests he achieved.

Other chieftains are the stuff of fables.

Though he acted in the enormous shadows of his two famous co-stars, “Buzz (Corey Allen)” from Rebel Without a Cause (‘55) was the proto-typical teen-leader of the angstful 1950s. He had Natalie Woods heart, for a time, kept his kooky crew in check, brought James Dean (“Jamie“) into the fold and then accidentally drove off a cliff.

And people can lead by refusing to act.

.......Parks.wc.1955.USIA.NARA.thmRosa Parks was not an imposing figure at 5’3.” And she wasn’t the first bus-rider to stand (sit) against racial segregation (Rustin-Morgan-Keys-Browder et al). But Civil Rights leaders saw the time was right to test again Constitutionality of Jim Crow and in her the right person to do it in exercising civil disobedience in refusing to cave to command of a Montgomery (Ala) bus-driver to give her seat to a white rider.

And sometimes leadership becomes an excuse.

In wake of Texans thumping at the hands, arms, legs, etcetera of the visiting Chiefs, their quarterback Brian Hoyer (15-34, 0t, 4i) said this in his post-game press conference: “This wasn’t nerves…I wasn’t gonna’ take myself out of the game…that would be a lack of leadership, a cop-out.”

Pluck is admirable but sometimes a leader finds strength to hand over the reins when his way is clearly, not only not getting the job done, but helping list the ship. No shame in occasionally passing the baton, especially when there are back-ups galore (Weeden, etc.). Just another way of ‘taking one for the team.’ And there is where the head coach must lead (See; O’Brien).

Hoyer recovered in closing with, “bad things happen in life. Hopefully I can learn from this.” Hopefully, yes.

.......Watt.9.23.12.J.Beall.thmb.wcHis defensive teammate, national celebrity and Schwarzenegger buddy, J.J. Watt, left the game in the 3rd quarter with injury but didn’t exhibit any better command in post-game questioning.

Reporter: “Does this (loss) take the edge off the season?” “Yes…it’s all about the Super Bowl.” Okay, J.J.

A real leader wouldn’t feel the need to convince fans he really wants the Lombardi. It’s a given. But to devalue the terrific accomplishment Houston worked in an injury-riddled, QB-carousal campaign, to assess a 9-8 record with a mopey mug post-game is not the stuff of staunch to inspire the throngs who cluster near for autographs.

In the other AFC tussle (PIT v CIN) where gloom hung heavy in the loser’s locker-room, a place where leadership or lack thereof will make itself quite evident (explaining a win is easy), the issue of control or lack thereof was top topic.

......Lewis.9.16.13.wc.emeybee.thmThe unsportsmanlike penalties called on Bengals Vontaze Burfict (Brown) and Adam Jones, game-changer plays, raised that never-ending question: How much responsibility does a coach bear in keeping it clean on the field?

Did Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis show sufficient leadership in his manner & means regarding his players on-field behavior? By the same token, did Steelers coach Joey Porter show good example in stepping onto the playing field, putting himself in the middle of the ruckus and becoming a trigger-point?

When you question a coach’s responsibility, think of parenting.

The analogy is not childishness per se, although, anytime anyone willingly veers from responsible behavior it may be deemed immature, but rather, the limits on influence & control, as well as certain duties that are inherent in tutorial ties.

Mom & Dad, guardians, are asked the same sort of question regarding their kids and in turn ask themselves: How much, and then, what exactly can we do to try to ensure our children grow wise and fit-in with the flock?

......Madden.Collins.12.6.07.wc.USGovt.thmTo note, Hall of Fame Raiders’ coach, broadcaster and toy icon, John Madden had a controversial defender on his winning Oakland teams named John “Jack” Tatum. His nickname: “The Assassin.” He worked the NFL gridiron for 10 years, 9 with John, made three Pro Bowls and laid-out Darryl Stingley (NE) on a targeted hit that was so vicious it left the Patriots end paralyzed.

Others showed a natural leadership or one that has grown sure as sun-up with the test of time and many battles fought.

Andy Dalton’s substitute A.J. McCarron, an Alabama champion himself just two years ago, led a late-game drive to put his Bengals ahead only to see it fritter away as two of his ‘mates unraveled. In post-game presser he was dejected but not bitter, refusing to “point fingers” even as the justification was present.

.....Roethlisberger.9.9.12.J.Beall.thmb.wcWhile on the winner’s side, well decorated QB Ben Roethlisberger, having been knocked from the game earlier and, by some reports, spat upon by host fans as he headed to the locker-room for repairs, returned to lead a game-winning drive (FG).

Leaders keep it in-house and “their eyes on the prize.”

Who will step closer to that VLT prize after this weekend’s Divisional games will turn on three keys: Tall talent, little bit o’ luck and loads of leadership. Bank on it.

..cherries.Hispalois.Spain.wc.cc.thmbDivisional Cherry Picks 2016

Chiefs (12-5) @ Patriots (12-4): 1.16 CBS 4:35: Pats win
Packers (11-6) @ Cards (12-4): NBC 8:15: Arizona wins
Seattle (11-6) @ Cats (15-1): 1.17 Fox 1:05: ‘Hawks win
Steelers (11-6) @ Denver (12-4): CBS 4:40: Broncs win

Record: 100 – 99

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: P.Manning, wc.cca, 9.9.12, J.Beall; Manning, 8.26.12, J.Beall, wc; R.Parks, wc, USIA-NARA, 1955; J.J. Watt, wc, J.Beall, 9.23.12; M.Lewis, wc, 9.16.13, emeybee; Collins-Madden, wc, 12.6.7, USGovt; B.Roethlisberger, wc, J.Beall, 9.9.12; cherries, Spain, Hispalois, 7.2.12, wc
Posted: 1.15.16 @ 11:00pm EST; Copyright © 2016

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