Lions search for leadership

By
Updated: May 12, 2012

One of the problems I noticed with the Detroit Lions over the course of the 2011 season was a vacuum of veteran leadership. It seemed the older veterans grew frustrated with the young stars not listening to them or not following their example. I think this culminated with the famous Dominic Raiola “Grow the F up” rant.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford tries to elude the pass rush of Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford tries to elude the pass rush of Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen.

The issue in my opinion lies here. On many teams, the 10- and 12-year veterans are not only the longest-tenured players on the team, but also the men who have the highest media profile within league circles. By contrast, on the Lions squad, players like quarterback Matthew Stafford, defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, and to a certain extent, wide receiver Calvin Johnson are still very young and don’t have enough time in the game to command a locker room.

Stafford raises his hand in a triumphant pose.

Stafford raises his hand in a triumphant pose.

This, in my opinion, will diminish with each passing year. Indeed, I think that the locker room would already respond to Johnson as a leader — if he evinced any desire whatsoever to assume that role. It will be intriguing to watch Stafford’s development this year. Does his 5,000-yard season elevate him to locker room leader, or does he need to start demonstrating leadership off of the field as well?

I don’t think anyone disputes the talent the Lions possess, but who in that locker room is going to raise his hand and lead this team — and will his teammates heed his call?

Any questions or comments can be sent to [email protected].

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About the author(s)

Living in Chicago but reared a Green Bay Packers fan, Mike Gabelbauer is a veritable encyclopedia of witty comebacks when it comes to football. He serves as Content Manager of the Water Cooler Sports Network and also presides as commissioner over our weekly Pick'em Contest. Feel free to drop him a line with questions, comments, suggestions, or requests for assistance at [email protected]. His email account is handicapped accessible.

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