Follow-up Post - A Lesson in Leadership
If you were me, would you advertise the world who you were? Much like Chinese dissidents deep within the bowels of the communist regime, I expect red-clad masked men in overalls to bust through my bedroom door the second people figure out who I am. Hell, my wife barely knows I write this blog.
With that being said, I will tell you that the reason my updates have been scattered and several days apart is because I've been going to school for 3 years. Yesterday, my journey ended, and I am done with continuous education forever. I know, it doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot...but if you've ever gone through it, you would understand what sacrifices it takes.
However, you could give a rats ass about the degree on my wall, and personally I don't care that much either. However, the subject of my thesis involves something I think you all should be able to relate to. My thesis revolved around leadership in the 21st century, and how today's citizen must be in tune with how to lead others if they have any hope of moving ahead in life.
As is often the case, I listened to several of the media discussions yesterday again regarding Bill Callahan's decision to stick with JC Keller for the 2007 season. (I'm just as shocked today as I was yesterday.) Much of the conversation circled around Keller's rocket-right arm and his senior-fueled abilities to run the offense. Matt Perrault went on and on about how JC conducts himself far above any college athlete he's been around. That very well may be true on all accounts.
But what was stated next struck a chord with me, "Sam Keller is a natural leader. I think he's the type of guy players will get behind and go to war for."
(Insert the sound of screeching tires and grinding brakes here)
Why? Because he's a senior by eligibility standards? Because he wears his hat backwards? Is it because he can use big words in a sentence like "spontaneous"?
Truth be told, I don't know JC Keller. I've never met JC nor have I ever seen him around his teammates. I'm guessing 99.9% of you have either. Despite your claims that the kid discovered Iceland, wrestled the world's largest Gila Monster and holds the world record bench press for guys whos name starts with an 'S'...I tend to be a bit more skeptical than you. Call me funny that way. I realize the JC angle has been overdone and yes, I'm as sick of it as you are.
But two things drive me nuts: First, I don't understand why people underestimate leadership in sports. And second, it's absolutely insane how people in the stands can judge leadership.
I'm not a football player. I've never played the sport in my life, but I did play enough other sports to know what leadership is all about. When I was in school, we had a guy on our team who was a four year pitcher. The greatest guy you'll ever meet, he would always be the first guy to congratulate a guy after a home run. He was the first one with his arm around your shoulder if you pitched a bad inning. He wasn't given God given talent, but that guy battled his ass off day in and day out.
By his senior year, he had solidified himself as a great #4 starter, and throughout our regional was being held in the rotation. Once we reached the semi-finals of the double elimination tournament, it was his job to pitch the finals the next day...should we have gotten that far. All game long, our team fought their ass off to get to that final. Not for ourselves...not for our coach or God forbid our school. We focused a little more...concentrated a little longer, just to give him is one last shot on the mound.
We lost that semi-final game, and our captain never got his shot to finish his career as our leader on the field.
Every single guy on our team...from the clean-up hitter to the athletic trainer was devastated for days and weeks afterward. I remember seeing a teammate hugging him in the parking lot in tears (one of the toughest guys on our team..played with a broken foot all season)...saying nothing but, "I'm sorry...I'm so sorry" for literally 3 solid minutes.
That guy wasn't a leader because of the way he spoke or the way he performed on the field. He wasn't a leader because he "carried himself" correctly. That guy was a leader because he WAS our team. That guy was a leader because he cared about each and every one of us. He would drive out to pick you up if you had been drinking all night and couldn't drive. (guilty). He would tell you what you're doing wrong if you asked him to. He would rip his right arm off for you if you asked, and in turn...his team didn't even care that their season or careers were over...rather they felt horrible that they let him down.
How Perrault and others who can blather on and on about "leadership" is absolutely beyond me. Unless you're so close to that team that you can recognize that allegiance, you don't know jack shit. Even the reporters who cover those teams day in and day out hardly have a clue as to the everyday relationships that are built within a team surrounding. They're not leaders because they are assigned so as coaches. They are leaders because they earn respect in ways that you couldn't possibly realize.
JC Keller might be that guy. He might possess the tools to fire a ball at 900mph, and hit a moving target from 80 yards away. I don't pretend to know. Maybe this Husker team doesn't need leaders like that? Maybe just a new mohawk will do? Maybe they draw inspiration from Larry the Cable Guy and a variety of themed t-shirts? Again, I have no idea what is true.
But I do know that judging from Mr. Keller's actions in Tempe, he has VERY LITTLE chance of being that guy that dudes will bawl to in the parking lot, saying "I'm so sorry" when they just blew the Big 12 North title. Unless of course they draw inspiration from a flying plastic cup...in which case you should have no problems.
You may go 12-1. (USC? Come on). You may win the North. JC or some other unforseen Husker may win the Heisman trophy. (Sorry..lost my mind for a second there.) But for the love of God, let the slobbery man-love for the guy be contained to things you can actually see...not things you can imagine.
Ten days to go.