Have you ever been expected to live up to the standards of a higher power?
Probably not but try and put yourself in the shoes of Raiders safety Lamarcus Joyner, who in the eyes of Head Coach Jon Gruden is expected to be perfect 100 percent of the time.
Joyner radiates positivity and a contagious energy every second of the day, and his head coach wants him to be that way 100 percent of the time. From the moment he arrived at the team's facility in Alameda, Calif., Gruden set the bar high because he knows what kind of impact the 28 year old can make on a relatively young Raiders defense.
"Sometimes I think Jon thinks I'm Jesus Christ or something," Joyner said jokingly. "I can't do no wrong, if I sneeze at the wrong time he's getting on me. If I'm walking with my head down he's getting on me because he's used to my [positive] energy."
The Raiders have made a concerted effort to change the culture, and Gruden, along with General Manager Mike Mayock made it a priority to acquire players this offseason that exemplified a winning mentality, and Joyner was among the first to receive a call.
Last year, Joyner was a member of the Los Angeles Rams Super-Bowl squad, and performed admirably, totaling six tackles in an all-out defensive slugfest. The Rams eventually fell 13-3, but the experience he gained in that moment was unique. It's that same experience he's being asked to educate the young players on the roster with, but being a leader wasn't something he always envisioned for himself.
"That's a great responsibility for me," he said. "I think it's a great feeling because the guys that I had before me when I first walked into this league that I wished and hoped to have to look up to, they didn't do a good job. So, I always told myself if I was ever put in that position to be entrusted with younger guys I'd be the best leader possible."
Joyner isn't the biggest man in the room, but when he opens his mouth people listen, and they're naturally drawn to him.
He thrives off of seeing those around him succeed, and it's gratifying for him to see the players around him take what he says and put it into action. It's rare you meet someone nowadays as selfless and genuine as Joyner, someone who wants nothing but the best for his teammates even if it means he's not as successful.
"I think the biggest thing — I'm a big believer in the faith — and Christ says there's no greater thing for a man to do than lay his life down his friends," Joyner said intently. "I think the biggest thing I do is I lay my life down out here for these guys. It's them first before me. It's not about Lamarcus Joyner, it's about what is John [Abram] going to think if I'm not working hard or giving 100 percent. What's Trayvon [Mullen] going to think? How is Gareon [Conley] going to look at me when things aren't going right? It's all about those guys. I'm sacrificing myself for them to be great, not for me to be great. I think that's my edge."
The Raiders get back to the practice fields in their second day of pads in Napa, Calif. for 2019 Training Camp.
Leadership isn't a characteristic everyone has in them, and sometimes it takes a while for someone to realize they have it in them. Joyner never saw himself stepping into a mentorship role, and as I mentioned earlier he never had anybody to shown him the way. When he finally started assuming the role of a leader, the former Florida State Seminole pulled from players he idolized in order to become the best he could be. He drew inspiration from players like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Sean Taylor, and while he tried to emulate their leadership style, he wanted to make it his own, so he could be the best version of himself possible.
Joyner is true to himself and people respect that, it's one of the many reasons why Gareon Conley and Johnathan Abram consider him to be "special."
"Lamarcus is very patient, being around him because he has three kids and I will admit I am kind of a kid at times," Abram told the media. "I like to have fun and those guys are very patient with me. Just being around and you get to see what it is like being on your sixth year, so it's different. It's very special."
"Lamarcus, he's probably got the best energy in the room," Conley added. "He always has high spirits and positivity. He just lifts everybody in the room. It's good to have someone like that If you're feeling tired or anything like that, he's always going to lift you up. He always plays hard."
At this stage, Joyner knows he's entering the second half of his career, and despite not owning a plethora of individual accolades, he doesn't want to be known as someone who stuffed the stat sheet, or was a Pro Bowler. He wants to go down as one of the most inspirational Raiders and NFL players to ever suit up.
So how does Joyner want to be remembered?
"Just as a guy that was selfless and led his team."