The San Diego Chargers said goodbye to many older veterans on the team this offseason, including team captain Takeo Spikes. Spikes was the vocal and inspirational leader for the team during his two-year stint in San Diego. Though his on-field performances were steadily declining, his off-the-field and locker room presence were invaluable to the team, and his mentorship of youngsters could be missed next season.
The Chargers will rely on youth in their rebuild and will need a veteran to push the right buttons and rally the troops to get the most out of the squad.
Enter Donald Butler.
The third-year linebacker has learned a lot from Spikes over the last two years, including how to be a leader. Now, he feels he’s up to the challenge of being that guy in San Diego.
“I think it’s my time to be that vocal leader,” Butler said at the start of the Bolts’ voluntary offseason workout program. “That’s what I’m going to do.”
“There were times where me and TK (Spikes) would shoot ideas off each other. I’d be like, ‘Yeah, make sure you talk to them about this before the game,’ or vice versa.”
Though the new league year has just begun, Butler is already demonstrating his leadership by trying to keep everyone on the team from pointing fingers and bashing last season’s effort.
On Friday, running back Ryan Mathews said that the Chargers were “complacent” last season and felt they were owed to win games. Whether that’s true or not, Butler isn’t happy that Mathews questioned the work ethic of everyone on the team. He also had a message for Mathews.
“Don’t make generalized statements like that about the whole team.”
A leader needs to send the tough messages and keep his teammates from saying or doing things that can only hurt the team. Butler’s message to Mathews should be a message to all his teammates that everyone should make sure they do their job and not place blame on others.
If this is a preview of what’s to come, the 24-year-old Butler will be a fine leader for the Bolts.