OXNARD, Calif. - During a recent press conference, Mike McCarthy took a moment to discuss his stance on this season's leadership council, consisting of players who are expected to motivate or resolve issues among their teammates.
McCarthy confirmed that this season's council has 14 players, chosen by the coaching staff. We know that Randy Gregory is one of those players, which is a symbolic victory for his career and its ups and downs.
The leadership council can be a liaison between players and coaches, but McCarthy said that his collaboration with leadership councils has always depended on the personalities of the players.
"I've done this for a few years and I've done it in different ways," McCarthy said. "Going back to the word 'organic.' I don't use the leadership council to deliver messages for me or push certain things. They have to take advantage of the opportunity to utilize the council and the council can be a two-way street."
The members of the council should have a good idea of whether the players want more messaging from their coaching staff or if they have heard plenty from their coaches during required practices and meetings. His involvement will differ based on those factors.
"I've done it where I met with those guys a lot, and I've done it where I hardly met with them at all," McCarthy recalled. "Really, the individuals on your council will drive how much they do and how much is needed. It's different for every team. It's different every year."
It seems that 14 players is a big number for the council, and McCarthy made clear that he believes that leadership is an evolving process, and that it is not specific to any one type of player.
"I've never felt leadership is relegated only to people in their fifth or sixth year," McCarthy said. "I think everyone has the opportunity to be a leader. It could be a young rookie, jumping to the front of the line in a drill. You can lead by performance. You can lead by your training habits. There are different forms of leadership. You have to build on that. Leadership is no different than football. You have to establish a foundation. You have to establish work habits. And at the end of the day it has to be real. It has to be organic. It has to be believable. It can't be the coach giving you a script to read from. That's not real."
During the first phase of training camp, players are having to intently listen to their coaches in order to fully grasp the systems and schemes that are being implemented going forward. But eventually players will understand much of what is expected of them, and meeting those expectations will be something they can lean on each other to accomplish.
"I feel the locker room is the most important room in our facility," McCarthy said. "At the end of the day this is a performance-driven business and those are the performers."