4 Locker Room Leaders Who Mean More to Their Teams Than Statistics Dictate
When NFL free agents negotiate contracts, they predominantly point to stat lines to prove their worth—but some players come equipped with intangibles that contradict the raw numbers.
Tim Tebow's value to the Denver Broncos certainly wasn't written in the stats, for example.
In one pathetic performance, the quarterback led Denver to a win over the Kansas City Chiefs with just two complete passes. But Tebow could get the locker room and the fans to rally behind him in a way that was magical.
Of course, Tim Tebow doesn't make this list since his presence on the Jets may do more harm for their locker room than good, but you get the idea.
Here are four players who can't be boiled down to the data.
It's easy to be overshadowed playing the unglamorous role of nose tackle on a defense that boasts future Hall of Famer Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and David Harris.
But Sione Pouha is a leader who works quietly and ferociously in the trenches of the New York Jets' defense.
Pouha's stats don't come close to reflecting his contribution to the Jets' defensive efforts.
The meaty tackle draws two blockers on almost every play, creating opportunities elsewhere on the field.
But Pouha is not just a presence on the field. He is also a widely-respected leader in a locker room that is in shambles.
Pouha demonstrates a fierce work ethic and is loathe to brag about his achievements.
He keeps the defense focused, but also keeps the mood light, often joking around with his teammates.
Kyle Vanden Bosch
Ndamukong Suh is the pre-eminent name on the Detroit Lions' defense, but Kyle Vanden Bosch is the predominant leader.
Vanden Bosch illustrates true commitment to his team.
During last year's lockout, he organized workouts for some players in the absence of a paycheck or even a guarantee that the season would go forward.
Vanden Bosch had faith that the Lions could turn around their 2010 6-10 record, and he motivated his players to train hard despite the uncertainty of the season.
It paid off.
Detroit finished 2011 at 10-6, earning its first playoff berth since 1999.
Lions' defensive coach Kris Kocurek highlighted Vanden Bosch's role in Detroit's metamorphosis:
“Kyle is a lead-by-example guy. When teams turn it around, there are certain guys in the locker room that you look at as being reasons why. Without Kyle, we wouldn’t have been able to turn around as quickly as we have.”
The captain won this year's Joe Schmidt Leadership Award.
For Kevin Faulk, being a leader has had various meanings throughout his career.
You wouldn't know it from watching the last few seasons, but Faulk is the New England Patriots' all-time leader in all-purpose yards.
More recently, however, the running back's role as a "leader" has nothing to do with stats and everything to do with character.
Playing for 13 years in New England, Faulk's experience spans three decades.
The veteran back has helped mentor generations of young Patriots, and he has earned the respect of the team.
Faulk hopes to return in 2012, and while it would be difficult for him to make the 53-man roster come September, he could be an invaluable asset to a young rushing corp.
No. 33 was able to tutor rookie running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen last season.
Vereen even stated that "working with Kevin Faulk has really opened my eyes. His work ethic is on a whole other level. Learning how hard he works has helped me a lot."
Faulk would still be able to contribute to the Patriots in 2012 even if his on-field production is almost zero.
Last season, Santana Moss struggled to produce, posting his lowest statistical season since his early years as a Jet.
To be fair, Moss was one of the league's top receivers as recently as 2010, but it's debatable whether the 33-year-old's slump is simply a phase or if it is indicative of an overall decline.
Mike Shanahan may have unintentionally implied the latter when he noticeably failed to mention Moss while answering a question about his top wideouts.
But even if Moss doesn't bounce back in 2012, his leadership role on the Washington Redskins is still essential.
No. 89 has been catching passes inside the Beltway since 2005 where he has established himself as one of the team's hardest workers despite a host of disappointing seasons and a revolving door at the quarterback slot.
Even established receiver Pierre Garcon, who joined the Redskins this offseason, acknowledged the importance of Moss' role in Washington.
"We have a leader in Santana Moss...He’s been here for a while," Garcon noted.
Moss' leadership role will be more important than ever next season as he helps Robert Griffin III navigate the Redskins' offense and life in the big leagues.