A lot has been made over the last 4-5 months about the concept of team captains, last season we had several and this season we'll have none. It really got me thinking about what makes a good team captain and does putting a 'C' on someones chest or arm make them a leader. As an Englishmen I grew up watching football (soccer) and it's still the main sport in my life, and during my entire lifetime my teams (Norwich & England) have always had a captain, it's not even an issue. One single player who epitomizes what it means to be a 'captain'. Rex Ryan made a terrible decision last year naming Santonio Holmes a team captain, perhaps he thought that by doing this Santonio would grow into being a leader, he was mistakes and now in 2012-2013 the New York Jets will not have a single captain.
I was reading some comments from Offensive Guard Matt Slauson
"I think in a situation like that where there are no captains named, it kind of forces guys to step up and take ownership," guard Matt Slauson said, "and guys like Brandon [Moore] have done a phenomenal job with that. Mark [Sanchez] has done a phenomenal job, obviously. Those are just the offensive guys. It kind of forces those guys to step up and all the rest of us respect them even more because that ‘C’ is not just given to them."
I agree with those sentiments, but it is the last line there that speaks volumes. You can't just hand someone the captaincy, in my opinion captains do work but they need to have the correct characteristics. Santonio Holmes, Mark Sanchez, Eric Smith, Sione Pouha and Darrelle Revis were all captains last year. In there we have a couple of selfish players, a couple of players who's on field performances have come under severe criticism and then Sione Pouha.
The real question that needs to be asked is, What makes a good team captain?
I went straight to the Leadership Expert Website for an answer and here is what I found:
- The desire to lead by example
- A passionate belief in team spirit
- The ability to handle the conflicts that invariably arise when a team is under pressure
- The desire to put more input in planning the team’s strategies
- The ability to handle problems which may arise in a fair and expedient manner (eg. disqualifications)
- The ability to behave professionally and responsibility despite personal feelings of frustration and anger
- A thorough knowledge of the rules of the game
- A desire to build relationships with other members of the team, in good times and bad
- The ability to handle the burden of being captain while still playing in the team
- The ability to inspire and motivate and raise team morale
I agree with every single one of those and I really think that when you cross reference this list with our team captains, you see where the problem is. Captaincy is not a flawed concept, in fact having played team sports for the best part of 15 years I can't imagine a team without a captain. My proposal would be to limit captains to one per unit. An offensive captain and a defensive captain.
Of course some leaders will just develop, and those are the guys you hand the official captaincy too. I hope that we bring captains back at some point in the future and the screening process for selection is just a little tougher and a little more extensiv.