LEADERSHIP: One of the big talking points this off-season is that the team has lost leadership that needs to be replaced. The talk centers around who will step up to fill the holes created by Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Matt Birk and Anquan Boldin leaving. The discussion presumes that the Baltimore Ravens need a centerpiece or two to pull the team, and there is a search for that person who can step up and make it happen.

 I have my own opinion about all of these developments, and am comfortable that the loss of these leaders will not be as significant as some might say. If there is a need to locate a leader, I think it rests with John Harbaugh and not a dynamic player personality.

 This team came to Baltimore without a name and a logo and a fireball burst on the scene in the first draft of the organization in 1996. Ray Lewis became the identity of the team and has the personality to carry that burden; although sometimes he as a human failed to get past his moody times. Ed Reed was his own quirky personality but he had the ability to lead by his actions; film study, game-planning, risk-taking. These figures pre-existed Harbaugh's selection as Head Coach, so he had to delicately balance the individual stamps that existed (and the fracture of the Defense/Offense) with his vision for the future to try to guide the team to a new horizon. It would have been normal for a new coach to blow up the prior culture entirely; sending the team to a few years of rebuilding to set his mark. Instead, he tried to mold the old pieces that still defined the team with his culture that the TEAM is the definition of the Baltimore Ravens.
 Since the 53-man roster defines the team, I believe that Harbaugh considers each player a leader in some way and at some time in a game. He has Captains for each game and I believe that he encourages the players to step up where needed. To the extent that a "leader" needs to exist, he will look for those who can be one that works within the TEAM concept. Pollard had a reputation before coming to Baltimore, but I think that the Ravens felt he could be molded to be a leader that they could fit in the system. He got a contract extension after his first year here; which was probably because he met the requirements in his interactions. In 2012 however, he took that as a nod for him to be a new leader and handled things his way; which were not in the parameters that were expected. Since it was obvious that he would not follow the culture that Harbaugh wanted, he was let go; notwithstanding the cap hit.

 The Ravens will have leaders throughout the team; with the talent in the NFL it is hard to not have it. But I think he is focused on having each player step up as needed and lead the team to victory with his talents and his personality as the game requires. I do not believe that Harbaugh sees the need for individual leaders or appointed captains. I think that he wants the team to feel that anyone can make it happen; and that if you are a player in the NFL you can be the difference-maker. The individual stamp of a player is not his focus. To put that burden on one player can both be unfair and can lead to failure if that player is unable or unwilling to meet that job.

 To paraphrase him - the leader for 2013 and beyond is the TEAM, the TEAM, the TEAM.

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