On a team filled with youth, defensive lineman Steve McLendon has emerged as one of the vocal leaders of the Jets.
“I just look at it like this: I have children of my own. I don’t need anyone else to motivate them. I need to be their leader,” McLendon said. “If I can lead my own children in the right direction, why can’t I help lead a team in the right direction? I’ve listened to guys like Reggie White and Ray Lewis even though I played against Ray Lewis on the other side. Just listening to him bring so much passion to a game was like why can’t you do this, also?
“I live by a code called 'the focus-driven life code.' I know if I stay focused and driven, my focus will become my drive and my drive will be my life.”
On Tuesday, the eight-year veteran brought the team together mid-practice and delivered an inspirational speech.
“All I wanted to do was keep the team going,” he said. “That’s what it’s really all about. I just brought everybody up to let them understand that I knew it was hot. We were playing with great energy and I wanted to keep it going. I know it might sound a little crazy from the sideline, but I wanted everybody to hear me. I was trying to be real vocal with my passion and love for the game. I wanted to keep the guys going. I wanted everyone to finish fast, play fast and smart.”
One of four Jets players over 30, the 31-year-old said the team has high expectations for 2017. Even though pundits aren’t expecting a lot from the Green & White following a 5-11 campaign, McLendon is more concerned about what takes place between the walls of 1 Jets Drive.
“At the end of the day, it’s really about us,” he said. “We couldn’t care less what other people have to say. No one is on the field with us, in meetings with us or at practice with us. We focus on us. If we stay focused and driven, our life will turn out pretty good.”