Yesterday, we highlighted Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster and his gradual emergence as a soft-spoken team leader as he enters his sixth season with the team.
An article on the team’s website highlighted some enlightening examples of his quiet leadership offered by the likes of Jarvis Jones and Brian Arnfelt.
But a leader is also an observer, and he needs to be able to take the pulse of his unit, and his team, by taking ownership of it.
Foster was asked about a variety of topics, also shared in that article, and I believe his observations bear out that specific eye that is a quality of leadership.
He was asked if he was particularly anxious about getting the upcoming season started, given the way the 2013 season ended, coming a field goal short of making the playoffs. “I am”, naturally, was the answer that he gave:
“Had we made the playoffs I think we could have been a special unit. We would have definitely left a mark. I think we did the latter part of the season. All of that is null and void if we don’t come out and show improvement next season. But guys get it”.
While he’s not old enough to remember the run of the 2005 championship team, the 2013 Steelers did scratch and claw their way to a 6-2 second-half record that they eagerly wanted tested in the postseason.
Foster recognizes that they began to build something during that time, but also seems to understand that it was just the foundation upon which to build something grander. Failing that, it could all come crashing down again:
I think we have a very firm foundation, especially with the offensive line in that room right now. Guys understand what it takes to win, what it is to finish in this league. I think there were more positives out of this season than negatives and those are things championship teams are built on and I think we have the makings for that.
Being able to watch the rapid growth of Kelvin Beachum, and to reflect on the role that he has had to play in his development, is also an opportunity that Foster relishes:
He made the positions he played his priority. If he was playing tight end I thought he was really good at that. When he went to center in the Tennessee game he did a really good job. For him to come in and take over the left tackle position and play the way he did, I am proud of him. I am not surprised. Since he has come into this league he has been a worker. He has sought wisdom from older guys. He is always a sponge. He has worked his way into this and I am happy to play beside him.
You can rest assured that Foster was one of those older guys that Beachum sought out. Especially as he was developing the skill set to play guard, because, like himself, Foster was also a college tackle that was being looked at to convert inside. While Beachum may have wound up at tackle, his versatility is what helped him ultimately get there, and it was Foster who helped show him the ropes.