The Pittsburgh Steelers have parted ways with a number of aging talents that epitomized success in the community during the height of their careers. While their on-field assets may have diminished over the years, however, one should not underestimate the ripple effect that their departures could have within the locker room.
While the concepts of camaraderie and leadership may be somewhat elusive when it comes to the team chemistry of a sports team, there is no doubt some truth to the idea that these qualities help build a winning team, especially when it comes to a game as interconnected with one another as is football.
The last several offseasons have seen some quality championship characters exit stage right, and their vacant lockers no doubt diminished the overall character of the room as a whole. Just recently, the team saw both Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu retire, even if their departures were already in the plans for this spring.
The question now becomes identifying who the new locker room leaders are, both now and in the future. I believe we do have some immediate answers, with a few waiting to be developed in the coming years, so let’s get to know some of these men who are leading the locker room these days for the Steelers.
On the defensive side of the ball, then, it would only be fair to start with the only player on that side of the ball to go to the Pro Bowl, and that would be ninth-year veteran starting inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons.
Timmons was perhaps never pegged as a leader. After all, he was always the mack linebacker, the sidekick for James Farrior and then Larry Foote. It took him some time to transition from the playmaker to the signal caller, but it’s a role that he’s grown into now.
Despite being in the league for as long as he has already, Timmons will only be turning 29 next month. He could potentially be in line for a third contract in a couple of years, though a lot can happen between now and then.
But as for now, Timmons is the old dog in the meeting room, surrounded by a bunch of young, hungry inside linebackers looking to learn from the one in the room who has been there and done it all already.
Perhaps the most underrated aspect of his game, in my estimation, has been his ability, over the years, to do a little bit of everything, which not every star player ever develops a knack for. Over his first eight seasons, for example, he hasn’t simply racked up 748 tackles, he has also recorded 11 forced fumbles, nine interceptions, and 28 sacks.
Timmons came in as a young, perhaps shy but athletic player, whom the Steelers weren’t even quite sure where they would put at first. He didn’t speak much. He still doesn’t speak all that much in public, but he has become more vocal with his teammates, where it matters, as he develops into the leader that many wondered if he would ever be able to become.