The question of leadership or the lack thereof has been bantered about quite a bit over the past few days since Ray Lewis said what he said on ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown.
“We talk about the transition of losing so many guys, a guy like myself and Ed Reed and other guys that are based off leadership, I’ve said it earlier: ‘Where would the leadership come from?’ Because the leadership being strong in the locker room and winning games, listen — talent sometimes can win you games. But when you talk about what’s going on off the field, that’s the most important place where leadership steps up.
“When you think about the Baltimore Ravens and the transition that they went through, they’re missing leadership right now. When you have an incident like that, the first thing a leader is going to do is find some way to dissolve everything that’s going on and actually dissolve it before it comes to that type of head or even gets to this point. When you talk about the Baltimore Ravens they’re going to have to refocus and find some quick leaders in that locker room very quickly.”
Now that the dust has settled, let’s put some perspective on this.
Keep in mind that Ray Lewis is a rookie TV analyst. He’s passionate and he speaks from the heart. But let’s admit it, there have been times over the years when Ray has said things that when finished you’re not even sure what you just heard.
Ray choked under the national spotlight. He didn’t know what to say when asked about the Ravens’ leadership and started rambling. Unfortunately the result was this somewhat damning, somewhat incoherent soliloquy.
At the end of the day, what Ray thinks about the Ravens right here, right now, doesn’t matter. It will not affect the Ravens one iota. If leadership in football was based upon what happens to a leader’s teammates off the field, Ray Lewis during the Billick years really wasn’t much of a leader.
Yet we know that’s not the case and we also know that being a leader doesn’t mean being a babysitter. In time there will be consequences. The Sweet Pea incident, while not as bad as many are making it to be, will probably make this season the last for Jacoby Jones and Bryant McKinnie as Ravens.
But until then, the Ravens locker room seems to be at peace with McKinnie’s Love Bus and ready to turn their collective heads towards the Buffalo Bills. That alone suggests the presence of leadership even if “The General” isn’t around anymore.
“We’ve got a lot of leaders on this team” said Terrell Suggs on Wednesday. “I don’t think that’s one thing we stress a lot in the locker room [saying], ‘This is that … I’m the leader.’ We don’t worry about that. We worry about what we’re trying to do as a team. We have a lot of leaders on this team, and we like it that way.”
Maybe having a defacto leader isn’t as important as leadership.
And with players like Suggs, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Vonta Leach, Haloti Ngata and Elvis Dumeril to name a few, there are still plenty of dogs in the house to guide that ship.
Now if some of those dogs could only improve the running game…