Sunday, December 28, 2008

A locker room linchpin

Good article in the Boston Globe about 32-year-old Miami QB Chad Pennington, who the writer describes as "a locker-room transformer."

According to the story, those within the MIA organization say that "Pennington's presence in the diverse, complex locker room that binds 53 players has probably been his greatest contribution. He's a locker-room linchpin."

Here's a good excerpt from the article:

It starts in the locker room, the underrated place that probably doesn't receive enough attention from football scribes. A football locker room is a fascinating place, bringing players together at different points in their careers, from different backgrounds, with varied salaries and personal agendas, in a testosterone-filled environment.

If only it were so easy to order up good locker-room chemistry, it would be one of the first items on a coach's to-do list each year, because a bad mix can quickly sink a season.

Usually that chemistry must evolve over time. With Pennington, however, the culture of the Dolphins' room changed almost immediately.

Said Dolphins coach Tony Sparano:

"When you have people like Chad in the locker room, I think it's a calming influence. I think it's critical, and it certainly was for us when we started this whole [rebuilding process] because we had so many players in from different places. I think we've changed 50 players since the time we started here.

He's been through this, so it's not the first time he's seen people come and go in locker rooms and those type of things. He can help spread the message, and is very good at spreading the message that the head coach sends and that the organization wants to send.

He's a tremendous leader, and has done an awful lot for our young players - he's taught them a lot about how to study this game and what it takes to prepare. It's just been his leadership skills and the way he goes about his business. He's a true professional. The guy's work ethic is unmatched from anyone I've been around."

Veteran Dolphins LB Joey Porter said this about Pennington:

"From day one he was doing stuff that the [players] weren't doing before. He was meeting with the offensive linemen and the receivers, [things] that leaders and captains are supposed to do. He passed that on to our young guys, so he has them working harder. Everything he brought to the team is what we needed."