The 10 Best Leaders in the NFL

  • Larry Fitzgerald

    Larry Fitzgerald is a throwback. The Dez Bryants and DeSean Jacksons of the world are certainly good WRs but it’s the Larry Fitzgeralds of the NFL landscape that get the most respect. Why? Consistency, leadership, and diva-free. Fitz is always level-headed on the field and never loses his cool.

    Most importantly, he just leads by example. The future Hall of Famer caught 82 catches for 954 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. Most importantly, he only dropped ONE pass all season long.

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  • Colin Kaepernick

    He’s quite possibly today’s new age prototypical quarterback. He’s big and tall like your standard pocket passer, but for some odd reason, God blessed this kid with the ability to fly on the field. In his first year as the full-time starter, Kaep did not disappoint with 21 touchdown passes and four on the ground.

    The thing I love most about Kapernick is that he’s not afraid to fail. In the Super Bowl two years ago, he was never scared and made the throw at the end of the game, which unfortunately went incomplete. Last season in the NFC Championship Game on first down, he threw a good pass to Michael Crabtree, who was in one-on-one coverage but Richard Sherman made a better play. Yes, it was only first down and no, Kaep didn’t have to mash for his dreams and go for the win on the first play. But what I love is that he did. He was not afraid to make the throw. I want the player that’s not afraid to fail, not the player who’s afraid to make a mistake no matter how big the moment.

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  • Andrew Luck

    Hard work always beats talent when talent doesn’t work. The thing about Luck is that he’s one of the most talented players in the NFL and he will definitely out-work you. He’s only led his team to the playoffs in his first two seasons with an offensive line that’s not very good. What does Luck do? He doesn’t make excuses and continuously makes the right play that leads to victories.

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  • Charles Woodson

    One of only two defenders to make the list, thanks to the departures of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. He’s literally the quarterback of the Raiders’ defense. Woodson still has some football left in the tank as evidenced by his first year playing free safety last season with 97 tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles and one pick.

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  • Patrick Willis

    The best linebacker in the game and this is not up for debate. He’s a poor man’s Ray Lewis. Of course he’s not as vocal as Lewis — no one is — but Willis leads by voice; He calls the plays on defense and he also leads by example. He’s the best player on the 49ers defense and has been for quite some time. He registered 104 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles last season.

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  • Russell Wilson

    Russell Wilson isn’t asked to do much to the naked eye. His numbers aren’t out of this world thanks to his awesome running game, but when he needs to carry the load he can. The great thing about Russell Wilson is his decision making. He never takes unnecessary risks with the ball, and he always slides when he’s running. Also, look at all of the personalities on the Seahawks’ roster and look at the way Wilson was able to manage all of them on and off the field for the ultimate goal, a Super Bowl victory.

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  • Aaron Rodgers

    A leader knows how to keep his wideouts happy. At one point Rodgers had Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, and James Jones begging for the ball. Rodgers kept it cool and led his team to a Super Bowl, because you know, that’s what leaders do.

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  • Drew Brees

    Drew Brees has been through it in his career. He’s had to fight off Doug Flutie and Philip Rivers in San Diego. He had to deal with a torn labrum, Hurricane Katrina and had to deal with not having his head coach for an entire season. A leader endures and doesn’t complain because he’s tough. The fact that Drew Brees was able to endure the 2012 season without his coach and still put up 5,000-plus yards and over 40 touchdowns says a lot about his character, overall talent and leadership.

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  • Peyton Manning

    Is there much to say bout this man being a leader? He calls his own plays. He’s probably been doing it since he was in junior high. Nothing else needs to be said, if you’re calling your own plays for as long as the elder Manning has, then you’re a leader.

    Also, leaders do things like this.

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  • Tom Brady

    The best leader in the NFL is Captain America himself. He literally hasn’t had a decent wide receiver since Randy Moss left, and even then he only had Moss for two seasons. What has he been doing since he became a starter in 2002? Taking the Patriots to the playoffs year in and year out. He loses weapons every year because the organization is cheap and he makes no excuses, he just leads….and wins.

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  • Larry Fitzgerald
  • Charles Woodson
  • Patrick Willis
  • Russell Wilson
  • Aaron Rodgers

It’s not easy being a leader. Some teammates won’t respect you, and some fanbases will rebel and turn their back on you if you can’t deliver. When you get to this stage, some players just don’t want that responsibility, content to make their money playing a game while slinking into the background. And who can blame them after seeing the way some are treated through the media?

Today, with the recent unveiling of the Nike Field Generals Collection at Champs Sports putting the spotlight on five of the league’s best leaders — Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck — we’re taking a look at the very best in the NFL.

Follow Richard on Twitter at @6Magazine