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Value of locker-room leadership

Post by Dave Boling / The News Tribune on Jan. 18, 2011 at 8:00 am with 13 Comments »
January 18, 2011 8:00 am

I’m noodling with this idea for a print column but thought I’d toss it in here in case I can’t get to it soon. As the Seahawks were packing up for the off-season yesterday, and offering some of their perspectives, I was again struck by the intelligence and sincerity and depth of some of the veterans. As they talked about what went on this season, you could see what is at the root of their leadership ability.

Linebacker Lofa Tatupu is certainly one of those guys, but he wasn’t around when we got there, so I’m mostly referring to Lawyer Milloy and Matt Hasselbeck. Neither is certain to be a Seahawk next season, and both are well into their career “golden years.” Until you can listen to them in the locker room, it’s probably difficult to grasp how much the team will lose in terms of guidance and emotional leadership if guys like them aren’t there.

Milloy said that one of the most rewarding things for him is when one of the young players comes up and thanks him for the way he’s helped them see what it takes to be a professional … how to go about the job of being a pro football player. I’ve talked this season to young guys like Earl Thomas and Walter Thurmond, and they’ve cited Milloy’s influence in their preparation, attitude and intensity, bearing and demeanor. For them, he’s been a walking blueprint for success and longevity in the league.

Hasselbeck came back from a disastrous string of games to play his best down the stretch. Even when he was battling injuries and playing poorly, there was no doubt about his leadership, as he was touted by teammates as giving the most inspirational speech before the final regular-season game against St. Louis – even though he wasn’t even going to play in the game.

Both these guys stayed positive and on-point when the season could have totally unraveled. Both led by word and deed, and provided examples of playing tough, being accountable and responsible. The game is getting statistically analyzed to a microscopic degree. But what can get overlooked in the process is the impact and value of guys who show the way, who are the emotional and psychological leaders on the field and in the locker room.

Maybe they’ll be back and maybe they won’t. Others can take their positions, but it’s clear that the team would be hard pressed to replace the loss of that kind of valuable veteran leadership.

Leave a comment Comments → 13
  1. Dukeshire says:

    I think that would be a great piece, Dave. I remember talking to Eric earlier this season about who might be in line to step into that role in the future. Lofa would seem to be a natural, but as you note, he was long gone when reporters came in, he doesn’t really embrace being a “spokesman”, so to speak. I wondered about guys like Hawthorne or Carlson or in time Earl Thomas or Okung.

    And this offseason more than ever, lockerroom leadership will be huge as the lockout is looming. Keeping guys on point, organizing workouts etc… As Hass noted, some guys don’t need the structure of the team to keep them motivated and working hard during a potential lock-out but others need that “kick in the butt”, as he said. Milloy and Hass are in ideal positions to keep a team together during that time.

    I believe you are right on, genuine leadership is so difficult to replace and losing one or both (Hass, Milloy) would create a huge void for this team.

  2. SeahawkFan12 says:

    Dave, looking forward to that piece. I recently closed out my Navy career as a pilot, and I can tell you that I flew with some great pilots and some not-so great ones. The thing that set one pilot apart from the other was leadership.

    It is as important in life as it is in sports.

    This is a big reason why I think re-signing Matt Hasselbeck is crucial for this team’s future success. He still has gas in the tank, and his knowledge and leadership, not to mention the example he sets, are irreplaceable.I’d love to see Milloy return as well.

    It is great to see some of the younger guys take to this leadership because it likely means they will take on that role when the veteran leadership eventually moves on.

  3. ruminator1 says:

    i think Milloy would be a good addition to the coaching staff. i love his attitude, but it is obvious his coverage skills have diminished.

    i certainly hope they are able to sign Hass for at least 1 more year. as suggested by Dave and in the above comment, he is an acknowledged leader.
    personally, i doubt Okung is a good option at this stage (re: leadership) but agree that Hawthorne might be

  4. hawkfan777 says:

    SeahawkFan12,

    I totally agree with you. Hasselbeck and Milloy would great to have back. Their experience is invaluable. Their leadership is a huge factor to taking it to the next level especially with a very young team. There is potential of having 5 or more new starters next season. Maybe rookies. They will need veteran leadership with next years rookies as well as the many other rookies that played this year.

  5. I find it interesting that most of the commenters at Fieldgulls.com are against re-signing Hass, whereas most here (including me) support re-signing him. I think anyone who was a Seahawks fan during the 1990s knows not to take a good QB for granted. Imagine if we didn’t re-sign Hass and relied on CW and a drafted rookie. We could get lucky: CW or the rookie could turn into a good QB. But more likely it will be 1992-95 all over again.

    There’s no sense in putting all our eggs in our basket. Hass is a good insurance policy. (So was Josh Wilson, but that’s another story.) I think everyone can agree that we need to keep looking for his replacement. But until we’re certain that we’ve found the right QB, why get rid of Hass and his great leadership?

    Ideally, we’ll follow the Green Bay model: letting our Aaron Rodgers sit for a couple of years, while our Brett Favre plays a couple more years.

  6. GeorgiaHawk says:

    I’m all for keeping Hasselbeck for another year or two. I’m anxious to see how he will do with a better 0-line and receiving.
    Milloy is tough as nails!
    I agree! Bring them back!

  7. SeahawkFan12 says:

    “Ideally, we’ll follow the Green Bay model: letting our Aaron Rodgers sit for a couple of years, while our Brett Favre plays a couple more years.”

    That’s actually a really good way of putting it. I agree. I doubt very much that Aaron Rodgers would be as good as he is today without that time with Favre, both on the bench watching and in the the film room learning.

  8. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Canfan

    I wouldn’t go that far as to compare Matt to Brett, and Charlie to Aaron Rodgers.

  9. Canfan, I wouldn’t use the FieldGulls site as a good example of other Seahawks fans. The same guys have been posting on that site for years, they are all afraid of disagreeing with John Morgan else they get shouted down, and long ago they all agreed to blame Hasselbeck for anything that goes wrong. Its become a Hasselhater site.

    I agree with you that Hasselbeck is a very sound insurance policy for this team while they search for their next QB. Hass can’t start 16 games after all his body has been through, but he’s a leader, sets a great example, and the whole team learns from him by practicing and playing with him.

  10. GeorgiaHawk, not comparing Matt to Brett and certainly not CW to AR. Just saying that we need to do what they do what Green Bay did. Aaron Rodgers was drafted at No. 24. If someone like him is available, then the Seahawks should grab him.

  11. Sorry, should have deleted “what they do” in the second sentence.

  12. SeahawkFan12 says:

    I wasn’t intending to draw comparisons between individual athletes, but rather the structure of the organization as it applies to experience and development of talent.

  13. I believe that leadership is huge at any level. Not just leadership, but leadership worth a damn.

    I hope we throw millions at some great free agents this off-season, but I only hope we offer it to guys who are proven good teammates and leaders (hard workers) by example.

    I believe you can have talented morons who are working towards their “big” free agent payday, but those aren’t necessarily the guys you want to resign to huge deals.

    There’s a certain center for the Panthers, guard for the Pats, and corner from the Raiders who fit the bill beautifully!

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