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Leaders: The Intangible Value of the Pump Up

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I was clicking around the internet a few minutes ago, and somehow got into looking at old pregame footage. There were the classics like Brian Dawkins of the ’08 Eagles before they went on to beat the Vikings in the playoffs.  Keith Brooking last year before they went on to hand New Orleans their first loss of the year…. and thats when something struck me.   I searched for “Redskins Pump Up” and nothing came up.

Before I show you what I was able to find for the Redskins — and there was something, albeit not as impactful as the other clips I’d like to share and compare…. think about team Leadership and what that looks like on the field. Think about Leadership and what that feels like before a game.  I’m going to introduce a few examples that I think hit the mark in terms of the infamous pregame pump ups — and what I’d like to leave you with as you watch them is what struck me as I watched them. It’s beyond a sound byte. It’s beyond the lack of pregame footage for the Redskins on Youtube.  It’s the fact that if you want to win consistently in the NFL — you need a team leader that handles his business and wrangles his teamates, and make an impact like the ones I’m going to highlight for you now.  You can’t draft it outright, you can’t teach it — having this type of leadership within you is something you were born with.  And these guys have it and the point is, their teams and team mates greatly benefit from being a part of it.

These are the guys that take it to the next level:

Ray Lewis

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Lewis consistently captains a top 5 defense, year in and year out. He does not seem to age. He is not human.  His pregame pump ups are insane… so much so that Madden 2010 has their Baltimore Raven loading/intro spot to his persona.  But here’s the thing — it’s not all about Ray Lewis, it’s about the team.  He says in the above video:

“I will look at you in the eye, and I want to know if you’re ready to play football.  Because I can tell if you’re ready or not.”

This may sound ridiculous to you, it may not — but stay with me.  The fact is Baltimore’s identity is their defense, and by extension their leader – Ray Lewis.  They were the #1 most productive defense in the NFL last year. In 2008, #2 by a HAIR to the Steelers.  In 2007, #1 again.   This is not some fluke thing…. Ray Lewis gets his team ready for battle every single week — the proof is in the pudding. It works.

Keith Brooking

Unquestionably the heart and soul of his team this year — Keith Brooking was Dallas’ un-waivering leader:

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I won’t spend too much time analyzing this one, after all it’s the Cowboys…. but take note of the passion.

Brian Dawkins

He did it with the Eagles and their ruthless defensive persona:

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And now he’s doing it in Denver:

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Facts are facts — and Dawkins seriously upgraded the Broncos defense this year… the Broncos went from second to last in 2008 to 15th in 2009.  I know, Elvis Dumervil had a much better year. Andra Davis had a huge impact as well. Vonnie Holiday was a great signing. And Champ Bailey had another great year.  But let me ask you this… who brought out this great play in his defense?  Did the captain have anything to do with it?  Wasn’t leadership a big part of taking ownership on that defense and demanding the best execution possible from your players? Do the Redskins have that same leader that brings out the best in their team?

Hold that thought.

Drew Brees

Vocal leaders are not always found on defense — here is the Superbowl MVP Drew Brees doing his pregame pump up’s that became famous last year in the playoffs:

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but he didn’t just START doing them just last year…

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That’s leadership, plain and simple. We know from transcripts that coaches look for it to develop amongst the team, you can’t just assign it.  Yes it’s sparked, cultivated, nurtured — but not heads and tails created.

So returning to my larger point — who on the Redskins fills this role?  Who fires up the team before every game?  Who takes ownership of the teams emotions and manifests it into a common goal?

It was hard to find — but the spark is there:

London Fletcher

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Fletch is one of the best linebackers in the NFL — certainly his unit’s captain.  There is no other player on offense or defense that has remotely come to the forefront to challenge his leaderships… so it’s time for him to fully own his role as the Leader of this 2010 Redskins team.

I mean, do you see the difference in that team’s huddle?  Was there even a team huddle? It looked like a few guys standing around with their heads down.  Notice the body language.  What does this communicate to you?  Fire? Heart? Passion?

Not to me it doesn’t — and I don’t need to be there to percieve that. I don’t need it to be an HD to figure out that compared to the other clips I showed here in this post — the Redskins have a serious confidence / emotional problem that needs to be addressed this year.  Team leaders must step forward and make a difference. Leaders elevate those around them, and Washington needs a leader now more than ever. If you are a Redskins fan — you should want to see them getting fired up in plain sight this year, not hidden away with inside muffled voices in the locker room. Let’s see it out in the open. Let’s see it period!

If the Redskins want to get to the next level with this team, here is where it starts.  It’s not X’s and O’s, it’s not schemes, it’s not patterns, routes, or run/pass ratio’s.


It’s time to own it Fletch — and get some results out of your team, get them to the next level with you.

So it’s not just you:

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