Florham Park, N.J.– Ask your average football fan what they think of Santonio Holmes and you’re likely to hear a long list of negative adjectives. They might say he’s selfish, a diva and or a headache, but ask his fellow receivers on his team and you’ll get an entirely different answer, one that might lead you to believe we’re talking about two completely different people and in many ways we are.
No one condones Holmes’ actions at the end of last season and ideally, yes it would be great if he would just play nice with the media, but that’s not who he is. If that bothers you, he really doesn’t care and neither do his teammates. The Santonio Holmes that the media meets with once a week and the fans get to read about is not the same guy his teammates see, or the people involved in any of his charities get to see.
If you ever get a chance to come out to an open practice you’ll also see a guy in a number 10 jersey whose behavior you don’t recognize. As the receivers run their drills, Holmes goes first then turns around and makes his way back to help coach the younger receivers through the drill. He’s an extra coach out there on the field and according to some of his teammates he’s just as big a coach to them off the field.
“Yeah he is an (extra) coach. He’s a seven, eight year vet and that’s a guy that we look to for a lot of direction amongst us young guys and he’s our leader out there.” Kerley said, “He’s a great dude, he’s a great guy to look up to and we lean on him for a lot of things.”
Last week wasn’t the first time he’s shown this leadership in practice, last year he would do the same thing. He’d take each of the young receivers off to the side, one-on-one and give them pointers. He’d give them tips on when to come out of a certain break or how to use their body as a shield between the defender or answer any other questions they had for him. Yesterday Holmes spent the day sprinting and doing conditioning drills, today he got involved in some team drills and as he can participate more in the immediate future he can continue to teach and lead the young receivers that look up to him.
Holmes was wrong for how he handled himself last season, but that season is over and done with. It’s time to move on. Last week there was no helmet-smashing or temper-tantrum’s being thrown, just a little frustration with himself for not being able to finish practice, a granting of his request to sit out by his coaches and a whole lot of coaching up his teammates that somehow went unnoticed by most.
“It’s easy to go unnoticed because people aren’t here everyday, seeing what goes on and ‘Tone has been in the biggest moments of the sport, Super Bowl, being a Super Bowl MVP and done a lot of great things.” Patrick Turner said, “You know, to have that on your side and someone who’s willing to open up and be a great teammate, it shouldn’t go unnoticed and I feel everybody really looks up to him. He’s always there whether you have a question or if you just want to ask him a question about anything, on the field or off the field and it’s good to have. He’s a good guy.”
After the way last season unfolded it was real easy to forget about the leadership Holmes showed last training camp and how much his teammates enjoyed his presence, but after seeing it again last week it was impossible to forget.
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