Comparing a football team to a military unit is one of the oldest cliches in our society. The athletes are called "warriors". They "prepare for war" every Sunday. QBs are "field generals" taking charge of the team. And it goes on and on. To be honest, I've always been a little offended by that. Comparing playing a game to leading my Marines in a combat zone doesn't seem to add up. Unfortunately, I'm a little off there, because there really are a lot of valid comparisons.
First and foremost is the need for leadership.
With most teams, the leader is the QB. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, etc. They take charge and lead their teams. Some teams find a leader on defense. Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher take the burden for their respective teams. On some units, it's the coach. Rahim Morris does it now, and Bill Cowher is the one who perfected it. Other teams turn to their best player. Marshall Faulk made a career out of leading his team. So how about our Chiefs?
Matt Cassel - He should be. Teams with strong leaders at QB tend to do the best. It's considered one of the more important "intangibles" for a QB. But neither his play, nor his demeanor has shown him to be the man in charge in KC.
Derrick Johnson - Again, he should be. But when's the last time you saw DJ getting in the ear of someone who just missed a tackle? Where's the quick slap to the back of the helmet when someone forgets an assignment. Don't tell me he hasn't had opportunities. He's had more mistakes to correct than the offense has scored points.
Thomas Jones - Last year's leader. You still see him giving the pregame speech, but that isn't enough. His ability on the field can't live up to his words on the sidelines anymore. Guys don't respect words without equal action.
Tamba Hali - Leadership is a rarity in specialist players. Tamba is really just a one-trick pony, although he does that trick better than anyone right now. He has a job to do, and it really doesn't include making sure others do theirs.
Todd Haley - He's loud and fiery enough to get on people when things go wrong, but I don't ever see him trying to pick someone up. You have to be able to do both if you want to be an effective leader. Besides, do you really want players turning to the coach every time things don't work out?
Dwayne Bowe - Leadership from a WR? Maybe the rarest of things in the NFL...and for good reason. Besides, he has enough to focus on with just catching the ball.
Eric Berry - Man, I was looking forward to this. After an amazing rookie season, and just listening to the guy talk, I had high hopes for Berry this year. He seems to have it all. Ability, intelligence, passion, and the absolute best attitude you could expect from a young athlete.
Ricky Stanzi - He did it at Iowa. As bad as he could be at times his junior year, he always seemed to be able to bring the team back from defeat. Of course, he has two things working against him. First, he's a rookie, why should anyone listen to him? Second, he's not even active, HOW can anyone listen to him?
This is what I'm looking for every week. The guy who is going around pumping people up. The guy who is in someone's ear when a mistake is made, and then offering encouragement later. The guy who takes the burden on his own shoulders. The guy who digs deep and steps up his own playing to inspire the rest of the team. The guy who ignores his own pain to be on the field because he believes the team needs him.
The saying goes: "Lead, follow, or get out of the way." We have plenty of guys who are willing to do the latter two. Can we find someone to lead?