Quarterback | leadership


QB Aaron Rodgers (12) and the Green Bay Packers breaking the huddle.

Often compared to captains of other team sports, before the implementation of NFL team captains in 2007, the starting quarterback is usually the de facto team leader and well-respected player on and off the field. Since 2007, when the NFL allowed teams to designate several captains to serve as on-field leaders, the starting quarterback has usually been one of the team captains as the leader of the team's offense.

In the NFL, while the starting quarterback has no other responsibility or authority, he may, depending on the league or individual team, have various informal duties, such as participation in pre-game ceremonies, the coin toss, or other events outside the game. For instance the starting quarterback is the first player (and third person after the team owner and head coach) to be presented with the Lamar Hunt Trophy/George Halas Trophy (after winning the AFC/NFC Conference title) and the Vince Lombardi Trophy (after a Super Bowl victory). The starting quarterback of the victorious Super Bowl team is often chosen for the "I'm going to Disney World!" campaign (which includes a trip to Walt Disney World for them and their families), whether they are the Super Bowl MVP or not; examples include Joe Montana (XXIII), Trent Dilfer (XXXV), Peyton Manning (50), Tom Brady and Julian Edelman (LIII). Dilfer was chosen even though teammate Ray Lewis was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV, due to the bad publicity from Lewis' murder trial the prior year.[20]

Being able to rely on a quarterback is vital to team morale.[21] San Diego Chargers safety Rodney Harrison called the 1998 season a "nightmare" because of poor play by Ryan Leaf and Craig Whelihan and, from the rookie Leaf, obnoxious behavior toward teammates. Although their 1999 season replacements Jim Harbaugh and Erik Kramer were not stars, linebacker Junior Seau said "you can't imagine the security we feel as teammates knowing we have two quarterbacks who have performed in this league and know how to handle themselves as players and as leaders".[22]

Commentators have noted the "disproportionate importance" of the quarterback, describing it as the "most glorified -- and scrutinized -- position" in team sports. It is believed that "there is no other position in sports that 'dictates the terms' of a game the way quarterback does, whether that impact is positive or negative, as "Everybody feeds off of what the quarterback can and cannot do...Defensively, offensively, everybody reacts to what threats or non-threats the quarterback has. Everything else is secondary". "An argument can be made that quarterback is the most influential position in team sports, considering he touches the ball on virtually every offensive play of a far shorter season than baseball, basketball or hockey -- a season in which every game is vitally important". Most consistently successful NFL teams (for instance, multiple Super Bowl appearances within a short period of time) have been centered around a single starting quarterback; the one exception was the Washington Redskins under head coach Joe Gibbs who won three Super Bowls with three different starting quarterbacks from 1982 to 1991.[23]

On a team's defense, the middle linebacker is regarded as "quarterback of the defense" and is often the defensive leader, since he must be as smart as he is athletic. The middle linebacker (MLB), sometimes known as the "Mike", is the only inside linebacker in the 4–3 scheme.[24]

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