Dunigan: CFL quarterbacks show leadership in different ways

Matt Dunigan
7/17/2013 4:18:42 PM
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There are numerous times, many situations, and a countless different ways in which leaders lead.

In a quarterback driven league such as the CFL, we see these leaders of men display their skills often.

Darian Durant has shown us his leadership abilities by relinquishing much of his responsibilities and spreading the load amongst his teammates. For example, he's handing the ball off to Kory Sheets more often this season than last. Delegation is just one of the ways Durant has lead Saskatchewan to a perfect 3-0 start to the season.

Kevin Glenn has been the essence of humility in his leadership role with the Calgary Stampeders. He has continually put the team first which in turn has proven to be a dynamic motivating force for his teammates. They want to excel when KG is on the field.

Travis Lulay took it upon his shoulders in Edmonton last week to carry the team offensively with his running prowess. I can't tell you how many times I did that over the course of my career. It's an aspect that lends itself to the CFL style of game beautifully.

When you can pressure a defense with your ability to create and move the chains with your feet, more times than not all the other offensive parts just seem to fall into place.

Just ask Henry Burris of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The 38-year-old led the Ticats to their first victory of the season with his heart and legs as well.

When a quarterback starts to gash a defence with his mobility, it can tear the heart out of them and immediately put them on their heels. Case in point, Lulay's 82 yards rushing and Burris's 47 yards were the difference in winning and losing for their clubs last week.

Anthony Calvillo is being forced to broaden his leadership role by taking a more vocal and hands-on approach to the offensive structure and system. In his phenomenal 20-year career he must grow even more and accept the role - if given the opportunity by head coach Dan Hawkins and offensive coordinator Mike Miller - to become the teacher and lead this offense.

I remember when I was thrust into a similar situation back in ‘92. Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Cal Murphy was having an emergency heart transplant and the offense was left in a bit of a tail spin. No offensive coordinator was appointed and it was up to a certain veteran QB to step forward. Thank goodness we had the talented mind of Mike Kelly on the staff and a group of veteran offensive football players that did not panic and persevered through what could have been a disastrous scenario.

Calvillo must assume control and take the lead in Montreal. Will they let him?

Ricky Ray in Toronto leads everyday with his professional approach and quiet confidence. They are the defending Grey Cup Champions because of his demeanor and leadership style; he simply gives his team a chance to win every time they take the field.

The Bombers' Buck Pierce continues to lead with a ‘never say die' attitude and relentless passion for winning. Believe me when I say this, there is nobody in Winnipeg more frustrated than Buck with the way things have played out over the last several seasons. He's a true warrior that continues to lead with grit and determination.

Mike Reilly is one of those people you meet and say, “Wow.” He's going to be successful; he has an aura about him that you want to be a part of and believe in. Those are the things a natural born leader are made of! He's getting his chance to play and learn the game while figuring out what it takes in the CFL to lead and be successful.

No matter where you go across the CFL you will find each team's leader looking for whatever the day calls for in order to be successful. It's not just one characteristic that comes into play, it's knowing how and when to apply many styles of leadership to whatever the situation calls for in order to be a player worth consistently following!

Alberta Premier Don Getty once told me, "Matt, being a successful quarterback in the CFL is like being a world class chef. Every day you have to take 40+ different ingredients, take a little of this and that, put it into a pot, stir it up and have it come out tasting delicious."

Here's to all of our CFL world class chefs cooking up something tasty for us all, week after week!

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