Don’t be fooled by the hype, Frank Gore is the real leader you want in your locker room.
The amount of media attention and airplay given to the whacky leader of the Baltimore Ravens, Ray Lewis would lead most to believe that the best way to approach leadership is through zany dances, lunatic rants, scary facemasks and pre-game cry-praying. Before we get into how not cool the squirrel dance actually is, we must acknowledge that Ray Lewis’ brand of leadership is exactly the type of thing media-types typically dismiss as the opposite of what being a “good leader” is all about.
Let’s just completely forget about the little murder-rap plea down for now and talk about the here and now. Although I would never say it to his face (see previous sentence), Ray Lewis is the type of loud-mouth, gimmicky, “look at me” kind of player whose histrionics are often used as an example of how not to act as a professional athlete in a leadership role.
We’re told that the blueprint for leadership in professional sports is humble confidence, unparalleled work-ethic, all the while letting your play do the talking. If this is the type of leader you’re looking for, it’s not Ray Lewis.
You’re looking for Frank Gore.
Listed at just 5’9” and 215 pounds, Frank Gore has out-performed his size and all expectations in every possible way imaginable. In eight years he has been the most reliable member of the 49ers offense, coming up with yardage and providing excitement during the lean Nolan and Singletary years; never once complaining about the team, the system or making a demand. There was easily a stretch of five years where the only thing 49ers fans had to look forward to on offense was a big run by Frank Gore–perhaps a lucky toss to Vernon Davis more recently, but definitely not a lot of wins.
Frank has quietly become the 49ers all-time leading rusher, is the third leading rusher amongst all active players and has only missed more than two games in a season once; and the numbers go on. This type of consistent productivity and dedication to the team and selflessness might be easy for talking heads to gloss over if the leaders on the other side do funny chicken dances.
Frank Gore’s ability to lead by example and play harder than anyone could have possibly imagined should not be lost on the hypocritical Ray Lewis media-crush that’s happening right now; he should be recognized for being a leader in the way 49ers named Montana, Rice and Young had led before him.