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Black n' Gold Blitz : Steelers Leadership Needs Addressed

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
Steelers fans, I want you to do something for me. As you sit here reading this on your smart phone, tablet, or personal computer...think about something. Think about last season. The 8-8 record. The numerous games that were decided by 7 points or less. Losing to the Bengals and being eliminated from the playoffs. Playing a meaningless game against the Browns in the final week of the regular season. The players that had departed (or were forced to depart). The team imploding down the stretch. The bad mouthing that went on after the season. Players conditioning and work ethic being questioned. Riffs between players and coaches. All of those things...just let it sink in. Re-read it if you have to, but it just screams of one thing...a complete and total lack of leadership. Did you hear these stories when Joey Porter, James Farrior, Aaron Smith, Hines Ward, Alan Faneca, or Jerome Bettis were wearing the black n' gold? Obviously you didn't. So why the sudden change? When players like the above all depart for one reason or another...someone has to fill their shoes as leaders.
When you watched the Steelers last year, there were times when the team just looked like a bunch of punks with bad attitudes. Plain and simple. The more I think about it, it reminds me of a scene from one of my favorite football movies - "Remember the Titans". When the players are at camp and Gary Bertier and Julius Campbell are told they HAVE to learn something about one another they get into an argument. Gary yells at Julius saying "See you have a bad attitude!" and Julius responds with "Attitude reflects leadership...Captain" That in itself sums up last season for the Steelers. Their leadership was non existent and because of that there were stupid penalties, bone headed decisions, and a total lack of discipline across the board.
Don't think for a second that Mike Tomlin gets off the hook here either. The head coach has to be the ultimate leader. Never wavering in the face of adversity. I don't think Tomlin quivvers under pressure, but he certainly needs to tighten the reigns on certain players. Tomlin is known as a great "players coach", and every coach has his own style. Tom Coughlin is the furthest thing from a "players" coach, but the man has won 2 Super Bowls with the New York Giants. Everyone has their own niche, but the penalties, bone headed decisions, and overall montra of the team falls on Tomlin's shoulders as much as the leaders in the locker room.
Can this ailment be rectified? Certainly. I actually believe it is starting to change for the better. Players like Ryan Clark, who is an influential member of the Steelers locker room, has finally stopped talking about Roger Goodell, the NFL in general, and is focusing on the Steelers and leading the men he steps on the field with every Sunday. Players like Lawrence Timmons have stepped up and started to take the bull by the horns, as well as Ben Roethlisberger and even Troy Polamalu. These players don't have to lead like their predicessors, but they have to find their OWN way of leading that is still effective. Creating that "team" unity and close knit bond between teammates goes alot further than anyone that has never played team sports can understand. As a HS Head Coach myself, developing that bond, that trust, that cohesiveness can be the difference between Wins and Losses. The Steelers know what lies ahead, and it starts with the leaders in the locker room if they ever want to climb that "Stairway to Seven" anytime soon.

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