So Minnesota Vikings quarterback Dante Culpepper and three of his fellow "Vikes" were just charged with indecent conduct, disorderly conduct and lewd and lascivious conduct for their actions on an October 6th Lake Minnetonka boat cruise. Apparently, the guys went a little "overboard" in their cavorting with some of the women on the vessel and now face a trial and possible jail time. Naturally, the team declined comment.
At the same time, Curtis Martin of the Jets has undergone successful knee surgery and plans to return next season to hopefully lead his hapless team to brighter results.
One could not find a more marked contrast in two team leaders than Culpepper and Martin.
I’ve had the fortune to meet Curtis twice. The most recent occurrence was the night before last season’s Super Bowl, when I was lucky enough to attend an NFL players association gala at which Curtis was given some sort of lifetime achievement award. His acceptance remarks were nothing short of incredible as he told of having survived a brutally tough childhood in which several family members were murdered. He not only overcame those terrible odds, but has risen to become one of the all-time great running backs. At the same time, he is one of the most humble guys in the world.
Anyway, near the end of the dinner, I walked over to Curtis, who was all alone at his table. I told him I was a big fan, but added that my son Chris, a sophomore at the University of Vermont, absolutely adored him. I asked Curtis if I could dial Chris on my cell phone and have the two of them talk. Needless to say, Curtis picked the phone right up and chatted amiably with my son as if they were the best of friends. Also, needless to say, dad scored some very serious points with his son for pulling that one off.
I don’t know Culpepper, but judging by his Lake Minnetonka antics, I doubt he would have had the grace and "everyman" demeanor of Martin to have spoken with my son that night.
And, that’s probably just one example of the vast differences between these two leaders.
Sadly, I fear that Martin is the exception to the leadership rule nowadays. The quiet, dignified leaders seem to have become an endangered species in sports, politics and most other pillars of our society. And, I’m not sure there’s any way to reverse the trend.
Another great post. I witnessed a very similar incident about 5 years ago after a Jets loss to the dolphins. The players were all leaving the stadium walking out to their cars and there was a big crowd around Curtis. He sat and signed each request and towards the end, some guy told Curtis that his buddy was a huge fan and was recently diagnosed with cancer. The fan asked Curtis to say hello on his cell phone to cheer up the buddy and Curtis said “sure thing.” For the next 5 or so minutes, all of us who were left watched as Curtis offered any help he could provide and also told the fan who to call in the Jets office so that they could keep in touch.
C-Mart is one of the few true superstars that are also true humans who understand the importance of giving back. For that reason, he goes into my book as the greatest back ever to play. He might not finsih with the most yards or with a ring from the jets, but he is a true champion in every sense.