In Cassel, We Trust A Leader

Winslow Townson/AP

All great leaders have at least one thing in common - they know how to inspire the masses. If the masses just happen to be your teammates and coaches, then it's safe to say Matt Cassel is such a leader.

No matter if you're on Team Cassel or not, this is clear: the Chiefs trust in him and believe he has all the qualities that will result in wins. Kansas City's faith in him didn't just result in a six-year contract worth $63 million, that faith brought him to Kansas City via February's trade with New England. Let's face it - if you're the Chiefs, you need faith, especially following a franchise-worst 2-14 record last season.

Some people have mistaken that faith for a risk. They say Cassel is nothing more than a decent - if even that - quarterback that came out of a Bill Belichick system where he couldn't have failed if he wanted to. That system, they say, was loaded with Super Bowl veterans, Pro Bowl receivers and an effective offensive line that Kansas City lacks.

That's all true to an extent, but a system, like any player's talent, only takes you so far. You've got to be able to run the system. If I was shopping for system insurance, Cassel wouldn't be such a bad policy to invest in.

We could talk about the numbers he posted last season ad nauseam, but there are attributes Cassel embodies that are more important.

1. He's not afraid of a challenge. Cassel could have thrown in the towel as he sat behind Tom Brady for three seasons or even as he lined up behind Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at USC. You have to like a player who won't quit just because things don't come easy. The Chiefs need someone who is able to push through the low times to the high times.

2. He can handle the pressure, and we're not just talking about pocket pressure. There's no doubt Cassel had big shoes to fill when he stepped in for Brady last season. Cassel wasn't the only one who wanted to take command successfully, a demanding club and thousands of fans did, too. Cassel proved he had the ability to step up and play when he helped the Patriots finish 11-5. Will anyone complain if he brings the Chiefs just half of those wins in 2009?

3. Cassel is about doing whatever he can to improve himself and his ability to lead the Chiefs. His extra time spent in the classroom and with the playbook this offseason has already been admired by his colleagues. It's hard not to like a guy who's willing to do anything to put himself in the best position to succeed, knowing his team is dependent on it.

At a position where leadership is imperative, Cassel has gained the confidence of teammates who are putting trust in him to lead and have given him respect. To achieve any sort of greatness as a leader you must be surrounded by those who believe in you, and Cassel does. If there's any risk that will be taken it will be there, with the players he lines up behind as they push the boundaries of what others say they are capable of doing. Their trust in him may ensure they get their job done, because they know Cassel will get his done.

Cassel has helped to bring a renewed hope to Kansas City that maybe the improvement and team building that's been talked about the last few seasons will actually transpire into something. That just maybe, the Chiefs will have a decent season, and that naming Cassel a franchise quarterback was in the best interests of an organization that wants to win games and eventually a Super Bowl.

The opportunity for those who will don the red and gold this season is now. And it's now for Cassel, who has a chance to prove he wasn't a one-year wonder, that's he's more than a backup - a leader.

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