Wanted: Locker Room Leadership


Pardon the interruption, but I’m going to get personal for a moment.

For those familiar with my act as “Goob” the Ravens super fan – in real life, I’m somewhat different. At times, I find myself cracking a smile or laughing at the good fortunes that I’ve been blessed to have. I realize I’m living a dream, I realize that if had a career change, a black friday-esque line would form around our brand new company offices for a shot at doing what I do. Humility is key, and as I interact with Ravens fans or write, I always try to remember that.

The reason I’m saying this is because I want to dive more into what I’ve been fortunate enough to witness in the Ravens locker room. My opinions are not always correct, but I do want to use this as a forum to allow you to justifiably realize that the Ravens may have bit off more than they can chew.

As the news broke Wednesday night that Ed Reed was going to finish his Hall of Fame career in Houston rather than Baltimore, I was taken back a bit. Of course, I’m going to miss Ed, and I honestly expected this to happen. Still, I was left wondering if the Ravens are prepared to absorb such a dynamic loss of veteran leadership.

Now that Reed is gone, I personally don’t believe there is anyone currently under contract that will have nearly the amount of leadership impact that was previously present in the Ravens’ locker room. Ray Lewis is gone, and Reed could have easily taken over in the wake of his retirement.

Joe Flacco wasn’t given $120 million for his leadership; he was given it for his play. Flacco is turning into a leader, but he isn’t the rah-rah type of guy to get you fired up.

Haloti Ngata isn’t the answer either. As aggressive and scary as Ngata can be on the field when he decides to play and is healthy, he is soft spoken and just one of the guys during practice and meetings.

Personally, Ray Rice  is a fantastic person and is one of only a few guys inside the locker room that I can actually call a friend. Rice is one hell of a player and shows his leadership qualities in the community, but I’ve just never seen him in the role of smacking his fellow teammates in the helmet before the game to get them fired up.

The last person eligible to fill that role is someone that even Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti recently said will likely become the next leader to fill the leadership void left by Lewis and Reed – Terrell Suggs.

After Reed’s impending departure was all over Twitter last night, Suggs posted the following to his own Twitter page:

So Suggs seems to be saying that he and Ngata are ready to step up. I mentioned my hesitation with Ngata above.

As for Suggs, inside the locker room, no player demands more attention than he does. It could be his 32-inch television, two-speaker and subwoofer Bose system blaring with the latest Blu-Ray or some profanity laced comment to distract a player from giving an interview.

Don’t get me wrong – Suggs is hilarious, but he’s also a goofball.

One major component of being a leader is character, and I’ve personally questioned Suggs’ character. No one inside that locker room wants to put on more of a show on the gridiron more than Suggs, but a certain part of it comes with respect amongst his teammates. Knowing that Reed was probably not going to return, I had questioned Suggs being able to fill that role.

And that was before this past weekend’s Ed Block Courage Awards.

Suggs was voted by his teammates to receive an award showcasing “players who exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage,” as stated on the Ed Block website. I’m not discounting what Suggs was able to do on the field this year as remarkable – it obviously showed supreme dedication and work ethic. Rather, I’m upset at the fact that he didn’t even show up to accept his award (Torrey Smith was there to accept for Suggs).

Award winners have others accept on their behalf all the time. That’s nothing new. However, the Ed Block Courage Awards are held in Baltimore. Suggs not only has a house in Baltimore, but was also in town over the weekend for an autograph signing in Pasadena. Suggs was undoubtedly compsensated for his time at the autograph signing, but because he had what was said to be “previous committments for training” in Arizona, he couldn’t hang around on Monday night to accept an NFL award that he teammates voted him to receive?

It’s for reasons like those I just presented that I doubt Suggs’ ability to garner full respect in the locker room as a leader of the Ravens moving forward.

Because of that, the Ravens will still be searching for the next man up, in the locker room as well as on the field.

This entry was posted in Blog View, Featured by Kris Jones. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kris Jones

Kris Jones
Kris - or "Goob" as he's widely known - has turned an obsession into a career. As a media member by day and super fan by night, he reports from the Under Armour Performance Center twice per week and brings Ravens news from a fan's perspective. His popular YouTube series...more

14 Raves on “Wanted: Locker Room Leadership

  1. Mill on said:

    I am not buying this. I think the reason that we haven’t seen that type of leader emerge in the younger players is because the leadership from the vets was so stifling. For example, you didn’t really see Flacco emerging as a leader on offense until guys like Derrick Mason and Todd Heap were gone. Who is this 2nd or 3rd year QB to walk up to a 10 year vet and put him in his place? Likewise with Ray Lewis and even Ed Reed. When Ed Reed makes a mistake in coverage or gets caught gambling, outside of Lewis, who is going to call Reed on it? Webb? Smith? Yeah right.

    I don’t believe that you have to have a strong unquestioned leader. I think if there is respect and accountability among the group, you can go just as far.

  2. Matthew on said:

    Leaders don’t have to be rah-rah to be leaders. In fact, many of the best leaders are quiet, down-to-earth, “follow me”, lead-by-example types such as Ngata.

    We’ll be fine with Suggs and Ngata.

  3. Rumor Ray on said:

    Goob, First off I want to start out saying that we should not have to have a leader in the locker room. These are MEN getting paid very well to do a job. The leader is the Coach and always should be. The fact that you wrote the following “Haloti Ngata isn’t the answer either. As aggressive and scary as Ngata can be on the field when he decides to play and is healthy, he is soft spoken and just one of the guys during practice and meetings.” make me question your true knowledge of the team. I agree with you on he is soft spoken, however my issue is with the “when he decides to play” comment. Haloti played hurt during most of the season. He still managed to play at a higher level then 31 other guys that start in the NFL. He chased down RG3 in the open field once and made RG3 run out of bounds. After he had his knee rolled on during the Super Bowl the 49ers started to run right up the middle on the Ravens and posted 17 points.

    I would not say he is a Ray Lewis Leader however I can inform you Ray Lewis RESPECTED Haloti Ngata and some lucky fans got to witness that back on November 19 2010 at the Greene Turtle in Westminster on his radio show. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-T-1BeLd_Y Haloti did an impression of Ray Lewis’ Old Spice commercial and Ray Lewis was cracking up. Trust me it was a total respect thing.

    Suggs and Ngata complement each other. One is low key and they other is over the top. They both are Pro Bowl Players with plenty of knowledge. They will RISE to the duty of helping the players keep the TEAM and remind them that in Baltimore we Play Like A Raven!

  4. Ed in On on said:

    You left out an important player, the leader of our secondary, 4 year vet Lardarius Webb. He is already a class act, and he will continue to step up and fill the void left by the outgoing Reed and Lewis.

  5. mateoraven12 on said:

    i think 2 guys from the offense (flacco and rice) and two/three from the D (sizzle, ngata, and webb) will all step up to form a council of leadership in the locker room. before, no one needed to because of ray and ed. who was gonna step up to those guys? now there is opportunity and i think those 5 guys can and will get serious about filling the leadership void left open.

  6. Becca on said:

    I couldn’t agree more, Goob. It’s a dark, dark time to be a Ravens fan. I don’t believe in the Wizard of Oz anymore :(

    • Rumor Ray on said:

      Becca. Oz does know what he is doing and the Ravens do it very well. We are not fielding a Family this is a PRO Sports Team and the players know they only have so many years they can keep up in the NFL. Ed Reed was a GREAT Player and us fans will miss him and a player, however not that long ago fans were calling for his retirement. The guys that we lost are all replaceable on the FIELD however they have not found a way into our HEARTS yet.

      Justin Tucker is now feeling the LOVE however everyone was sure we could NEVER replace Matt Stover. Point is we did and we still won a Super Bowl ….

      RELAX and enjoy the RIDE !!!

      • Big Perm on said:

        well said Rumor Ray. i’m just getting tired of hearing people who don’t know a thing about how the cap works. ozzie has a plan, plain and simple.

        • g money on said:

          and that plan is gonna be tightness. you can take that to the bank and cash it. I LOVE our moves so far, gonna be nice to see a little speed for a change on defense. Everyone saw the defense in the 2nd half of the super bowl, they were tired and slow. they looked old, and they were. i’ll miss Ed, he is one of the greatest Ravens ever. But we do NOT PAY AGE!!! “I don’t believe in the wizard of Oz anymore.” that makes me laugh. I think you should stop talking football and become strictly an Orioles fan.

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