A lesson in failed leadership

I haven’t watched a single minute of the NFL this season, but I’m moderately well-informed because I read Outkick. Jason Whitlock, who has been on a roll lately, astutely observes why the Saints are unexpectedly underperforming this season:

Brees has never been the most talented NFL QB. His intangibles, particularly his leadership, are what made him great. The guy’s reputation was impeccable. 

He was the guy New Orleans and the Saints rallied around. Jenkins and Thomas ruined that when they publicly criticized Brees because Brees had the audacity to defend standing for the national anthem. 

Brees is no longer the leader of the Saints, who fell to 1-2 Sunday night. He’s a player on the team. It’s a tragedy what Jenkins and Thomas did to Brees, the NFL’s modern-day Walter Payton. If the Saints miss the playoffs, blame Jenkins, Thomas and the media race hustlers.

Leaders have to lead. Leaders have to face down challenges to their authority. Leaders who back down and submit to the demands of their followers also give up their leadership. Once a leader abdicates his position, especially if he does so under duress or out of cowardice, he is very unlikely to ever get it back, even if his leadership is in everyone’s best interest.

Drew Brees had an obligation to the team to stand his ground and stare down his critics. Because he failed in his responsibility to do so, his teammates no longer have confidence in him or his leadership.