We're not even going to pretend to contemplate this one.
When you think of leadership, an overpowering presence to keep the team's focus, you think Andrew Whitworth. There is no other answer.
Perhaps I'm a little jaded with favoritism, but an offensive lineman is as equally as important as any player on the field. Rallying the troops with pregame speeches and in-game motivation, Whitworth is the persona of the team's character, in strength and character. Cincinnati's player representative, Whitworth is a man who drives common sense and extends a coaching presence.
Look at the bigger sample size.
When the NFL locked out its players, it was Whitworth, with Domata Peko, who organized team workouts. When the locker room was fractured during the Carson Palmer dilemma in '11, it was Whitworth who preached for unity and for everyone to stand behind Andy Dalton.
An older story from Yahoo! Sports written by Dan Wetzel.
It started with concern but soon, mostly due to a speech by Whitworth, you could say the new Bengals were born. What Lewis had wanted to surround himself with was showing itself.
"We just kind of said, 'you can sit around and complain about the situation we are in or we can say, we have no excuses, no reason to doubt, everyone thinks we can't do it anyway so let's go out and win football games,'" Whitworth said. No more dreaming of Carson Palmer walking through that door. "We said, 'the truth is we have a young kid who knows what he's doing and if we play well around him, we'll have success.'"
"I let Whitworth talk," Lewis said. "And they got it back. I think Whit had great words of wisdom for them and what we needed to do. And to not flinch. We have to work through the adversity. It's not going to be like we scripted."
Since that moment, since Dalton took over with Whitworth, launching a speech that brought Cincinnati back together, the Bengals have won 32 of 50 regular season games, qualified for the postseason in three straight years (never done before) and right now hold an early-season view as one of the league's best teams.
And seriously... don't mess with Whitworth's quarterback.