NFL training camps are open and the leadership porn is sizzling

NFL training camps are open and the leadership porn is sizzling


Enough with the “leadership” talk already.

Enough with the “leadership” talk already.
Image: Getty Images

One of the more annoying things in life is when a person thinks a job title denotes leadership. Whether it’s newly-promoted assistant manager Greg trying to rally the staff during the lunch rush at Jimmy John’s, a CEO expecting underlings to laugh at all his jokes, or quarterbacks buying their offensive linemen gifts, there’s something unsettling about people who try way too hard to be leaders.

Even worse is when the media sops that stuff up like they’re the quicker picker-upper. I don’t care what spa Russell Wilson took his lineman to, or what time Mac Jones showed up to practice. I did group projects in middle school, too, and your superior report card doesn’t mean you get to decide who does what, Becky.

So it’s not surprising that I find Jones and Wilson’s preseason laudation from news outlets exhausting — despite them being excellent leaders by most accounts. The way the two signal callers are covered makes it seem as if every spiral uplifts the team like a Sunday sermon, so let’s see whose leadership is the girthiest.

The Broncos really were desperate for a QB

Has Peyton Manning been gone so long that the Denver Post needs a special Russell Wilson tab on its sports page? (Editor’s Note: It’s been a long, trying time) The Super Bowl champion‘s arrival has been hotly anticipated, and he showed up to training camp wearing a Broncos throwback… of himself.

The jersey is clean, but was the stadium shop all out of Steve Atwater replicas? I honestly can’t remember a player wearing his own kit to the facility.

Also, his enthusiasm to cut promos for the team is reminiscent of kiss asses everywhere. Man does he fully commit to the bit.

If that’s what it takes to be a leader, I’m out. I got tricked into smiling for my senior picture, I’m not going to recite “Let’s ride” 1,700 different ways.

That said, new Denver head coach Nathaniel Hackett has been blown away by how much Wilson lets you know he’s working.

“It’s unbelievable to watch. Every single second that he has, he’s non-stop working. If he’s on a plane, he’s watching film, he’s studying, he’s calling people and he’s calling me.”

The Broncos quarterback has been FaceTiming receivers day and night, and it’s worth asking, will he ever shut up? My god, Russ, go film a TikTok. No one has the energy for the unrelenting PR campaign.

The reason why leading by example is a cliche is because declaring yourself a leader is an ego trip. It’s like giving yourself a nickname. You can call yourself that, but it doesn’t mean others will.

The Mac-churian candidate has been reactivated

The main difference between Wilson and Jones — besides one being a proven NFL winner, and the other trying to reach that level — is I have no idea what Jones’ voice sounds like. For a guy who’s constantly being exalted as a phenomenal leader, it’s a little strange that I’ve never heard him speak, and it’s even stranger that he’s still annoying even though he doesn’t talk.

That probably has something to do with everyone from Bill Belichick to Boston fanboys to the hundreds of Patriots skill players who worked out with Mac this summer praising him for his offseason maturation.

Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne said Jones’ leadership is “just at another level now.” 

Center David Andrews said of his QB: “He works really hard. He’s a tough kid. It’s been fun for me the last year, year and a half, to get to know him. I’ve got a lot of respect for how he does things and how he carries himself.”

The Pats faithful at training camp gave Jones a standing ovation merely for showing up.

Why is he running across the field like he’s late? There are like five players out there. No one is waiting on him. I mean, congrats on dropping the baby fat. Professional athletes are supposed to do that, but whatever.

There’s nothing wrong with being a leader. It’s a tremendous quality to possess. We just don’t have to unfurl our loins every time a quarterback works out with a receiver in July. 





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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.