The Detroit Lions announced their team captains on Friday, thus ending weeks of speculation with plenty of debate. Along with usual suspects—Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Stephen Tulloch and John Wendling—two new selections in Ndamukong Suh and David Akers emerged.
This group brings a solid mix of vocal leadership (Stafford and Tulloch) and quiet, lead by example type behavior (Johnson and Wendling) to the team. The two wild cards, of course, are Suh and Akers, two players many might not know what to expect from, given they will be new to the leadership thing around Detroit.
Akers, a kicker and 16-year veteran, will assume the Jason Hanson role. Long revered for his quiet leadership on special teams, Hanson retired prior to this season, leaving a void in that department. Akers will capably fill that hole, making the transition seamless in at least one spot. Given his past, Akers will likely be similarly revered in Detroit's locker room.
There's been intense debate in internet circles about whether or not Suh is capable of a leadership role, but the fact that he has now been given the role is undeniable. After talking for a while about becoming a better leader, now, Suh gets the chance to prove he's ready every day. For 2013, that means no more questions about dirty play or a rogue attitude. Suh must make a positive impact on his team and be a source of inspiration and leadership
Many might feel as if Suh has not earned such a role in the league, but exactly the contrary is true. He deserves a chance to prove his doubters wrong, and given what has happened in the past, he will likely be very motivated to prove himself worthy of the role. That could mean an uptick in production and a downturn in the amount of nefarious activities on the field.
Presenting Suh with the opportunity to expand his maturity now could be the key to unlocking consistent play, meaning it's the right move by his teammates to elect him captain prior to an incredibly important 2013 season.
Every other Lions' team captain has already taken those steps in their career and have the accolades, contracts and statistics to prove it. The respect they've earned has provided them with the ability to lead. Now that Suh has been given that chance, the results could prove fantastic both for himself and his team.
In bad need of a winning season, the Lions have turned to several of their most noticeable players and one of their most volatile for team leadership. Will that move pay off for both parties? That's the only thing yet to be determined.
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