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Santonio Holmes Has a Long Way to Go to be a Leader on New York Jets

If the New York Jets hope to contend this year they are going to need Santonio Holmes to step up and be the receiver they thought they were getting from the Pittsburgh Steelers when they traded a fifth round pick for him in April of 2010.  At least they need the version that won the Super Bowl XLIII MVP and not the guy who has had troubles off the field and, as recently as last season, on the field.

Last season, Holmes was involved in a verbal altercation with offensive tackle Wayne Hunter that resulted in Holmes being benched.  He had been voicing his displeasure over his lack of involvement in the offense and his frustration boiled over.  Holmes was stripped of his captaincy after last season.  In fact, head coach Rex Ryan did away with team captains altogether.  However, Holmes still thinks of himself as a team leader and will participate in “Jets West” a voluntary get together held by Mark Sanchez in Mission Viejo, CA.  “Being out there is going to give the young guys a sense of security,” Holmes said.  “Knowing we have our veteran, we have our leader here with us, who’s going to help us and get us on the same page.  I think all of us doing the same thing at the same time will be a great chemistry builder.”

Holmes, surrounded by a developing quarterback and young wide receivers, will need to curb his attitude if he ever truly wants to be seen as a leader on and off the field.  However, today during OTA’s, Holmes limped off the field and threw his helmet in obvious frustration.  He insisted he wasn’t hurt, just frustrated that he was being used too much.

Holmes said, “I was talking to the coach [wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal], letting him understand it was too many reps today.  I’ve been gone for a while, so I can’t be at full tempo like the rest of the guys and where they want us to be at.”  Holmes was recently absent for several voluntary practice sessions because he was participating in a goodwill trip to Germany to visit military personnel stationed there.  That is understandable and to be commended.  However, his throwing his helmet and showing frustration is exactly what got him into trouble last season.

When Holmes is going well he is one of the best wide receivers in the game.  He has an ability to get open and to make something happen after the catch.  He has immense talent.  However, he has always been held back by something, mostly by his actions on the field and off of it.  From nightclub altercations to getting suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, to fighting with teammates, it has always been something with Holmes.

If Holmes is truly going to take the next step and become a leader of a young receiver corps he will need to understand that these open displays of childish behavior are not acceptable.  The Jets can’t afford to repeat anything from last season, specifically the bickering that took place in the locker room and on the field.  If Holmes truly wants to be a leader he needs to change the way he reacts when things don’t go his way.  Whether it is throwing your helmet in practice or getting into a verbal altercation with a teammate on the field, Holmes needs to grow up before he can truly become a leader.  Real leaders lead by example first and foremost.  Perhaps one day Santonio Holmes will understand that.