By Samuel Njoku
By this time next week the Baltimore Ravens may be Super Bowl champions. No one outside the city of Baltimore gave them a chance, but they are a football game away from immortality. That’s a far cry from the team that lost to Charlie Batch earlier this year. And lost in all the talk of sibling rivalries and retirement talk rests a 6’6” quarterback that nobody gave a chance. Joe Flacco kept trying to tell us and most wouldn’t listen. But you’d be a fool to think of him as anything else. Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback.
Before we delve any deeper into the madness that is the “elite QB” criteria let me preface by saying that the term elite is by far the worst thing that has ever happened to football. Growing up, you never heard the term when describing players such as Dan Marino, Steve Young, or Troy Aikman. Some time between the NFL’s induction of Thursday Night Football and ESPN’s creation of the QBR system, the term elite QB began getting thrown around more than Kim Kardashian’s phone number. But for the sake of conversation, we’ll speak on the term elite quarterback as if it actually means anything. And please believe me when I say it doesn’t.
For starters, the two best quarterbacks in the NFL are Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Let’s throw in Aaron Rodgers in the mix just for the heck of it. How many of them are playing in the Super Bowl this year? See where I’m going with this. Back in the 90’s, a quarterback was measured by his ability to win games – not throw touchdowns. It was a beautiful time where championships meant everything and Pro Bowls meant nothing. Times sure have changed, haven’t they? Back then, a quarterback with 54 wins in his first 5 seasons would be a gem. Top that with a knack for making AFC Championship appearances and you have a man with a pretty active bank account. But in the 21st century, we’re more concerned with your quarterback rating. Hey ESPN, can you tell me how low Flacco’s QBR was this year. It’s hard to hear you over all that champagne popping in the Ravens locker room.
It’s easy to criticize Flacco when he doesn’t play perfect. He doesn’t say much. And when he does say something interesting on the microphone, we want to beat him up for it.
“I assume everybody thinks they’re a top-five quarterback,” Flacco stated earlier this year. “I mean, I think I’m the best. I don’t think I’m top five, I think I’m the best. I don’t think I’d be very successful at my job if I didn’t feel that way. I mean, C’mon? That’s not really too tough of a question. But that doesn’t mean that things are gonna work out that way. It just means that that’s the way it is, that’s the way I feel it is, and that’s the way I feel it should be.”
Back when Flacco made that statement, the national media were all over the kid. Who does Flacco think he is? What’s with all the self confidence? It was actually pretty funny to watch. Of course it’s not nearly as funny as watching the same analysts eat crow now. They’ll praise him now because he beat the god known as Tom Brady. And Flacco deserves it. But the recognition is long overdue. All Joe Flacco does is win football games. His poise is superb. His arm strength is second to none. And his will to win is one of the most underrated characteristics in the young quarterback’s repertoire. So how does Flacco feel about finally shutting up the haters?
“I really don’t care, Flacco told reporters on Thursday. “You know, there are guys out there that have got to make a living on hating on somebody. If that’s going to be us, if that’s going to be me, then I plan on being around for a while. And if you want to continue to do it, I’ll be here.”
He’s absolutely right. He will be in Baltimore for a long time. There’s no way the Ravens let go of Flacco. Not with the memories of Kyle Boller and Elvis Grbac still fresh in the mind of Ozzie Newsome. They’ve been looking for an elite quarterback for years now. It appears as though they have found their man. And now everyone knows it – including Joe Flacco. Of course he’s known all along.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.