Regardless of whether Derek Wolfe ends up with the captain’s “C” on his chest or not, he is a leader of this Denver Broncos defense.
Von Miller will likely end up as a captain, and rightfully so. The best players generally are captains, and Miller certainly is an excellent leader in his own right.
But Wolfe will be the guy who sparks the fear of respect into his teammates’ eyes.
I have three general guidelines taken from the best leaders I’ve ever been around:
- You pretty much have to be a superstar
Occasionally, a guy has so much natural leadership that he can overcome this first caveat. However, generally speaking, I have never been around a great leader who was not a superstar on the field.
- You better work harder than I do
Speeches are given about five times a day at the NFL level, and rah-rah rarely works. It goes in one ear and out the other.
If you are going to give me a hype speech about needing to work harder, I better see you working harder than I do.
- You have to have passion for what you do
Passion breeds passion, and with as many speeches as we hear, false enthusiasm is easy to point out. Eyes will roll and players will tune you out, but if you have true passion, it will rub off.***
Wolfe exemplifies these guidelines as well as anyone on the Broncos defense. Add that he has just the right amount of “crazy” to make teammates fear him, and I am telling you that Wolfe will be the most impactful leader on his side of the ball.
He might not be a “superstar” according to some analysts, but he is dang close to that label, despite who you ask.
He certainly works as hard, if not harder, than any player in that locker room. Take a look at his biceps and call me a liar, I dare you.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, in his case, Wolfe lives, breathes, and dies by the game of football. He is easily one of the most passionate players I have ever been around.
This game has come close to saving his life at times, and it shows. Players fear to let him down, and Wolfe channels that passion well when inspiring his teammates to work at the same level he does.
I am glad Miller’s time as a leader of this team has arrived because he has earned it. But just be even more happy the Broncos have a guy like Wolfe to lead in a different kind of way by Miller’s side.