There’s nothing in sports better than proving people wrong.
It’s one thing to win.
But, it’s far better to do so when folks said you couldn’t or wouldn’t do it.
Lots of baseball fans said Alex Rodriguez would never sport a championship ring. He proved them wrong.
Plenty of folks opined that Peyton Manning was great in the regular season, but wasn’t quite “tough enough” to win the whole thing. Manning quieted those people in Miami back in January of 2007.
Hell, we, here at WNST, have been proving Baltimoreans wrong for the better part of decade. A few years back, after the station made several on-air changes, a bunch of “experts” who listen to talk radio went on our web site or other cyber-space venues and predicted our imminent demise. “That’s the end of ‘NST,” they wrote. “They’re circling the drain,” others said. Not only are we alive and well, we continue to kick everyone’s ass in town when it comes to quality content and a full-service media offering that no else in Baltimore comes close to duplicating.
I take great pride in that, personally, because I was well aware that people in town thought we were going to fall apart.
We owe our sponsors a great debt of gratitude for sticking with us and, of course, we owe our loyal listeners and readers a huge group hug for always supporting our media efforts.
But…if I’m thrilled with the fact that we’ve proved people wrong here in Baltimore, you can only imagine how Joe Flacco feels about his impending trip to New Orleans.
Joe Flacco had doubters in Baltimore. And Boston. And Dallas. And Washington, DC. And Los Angeles. In fact, just about every major media outlet in the country plus a bunch of national talk radio shows and NFL Game Day “experts” questioned Flacco’s ability to play at a high-level in the NFL.
I wonder if those goofs like their crow plain…or marinated in a marsala sauce?
Joe Flacco isn’t a perfect quarterback.
In fact, that person probably doesn’t exist. If you ask someone with a real discerning eye for quarterbacking, they’d probably tell you the two men in the NFL who most closely resemble the “perfect quarterback” are Tom Brady – the guy Flacco just ousted from the post-season on Sunday night – and Aaron Rodgers. Brady is the guy who will slice you apart in the pocket but not use his feet much to beat you, while Rodgers has an accurate, rifle-arm and the ability to move around and make plays with his legs.
Neither of them made the Super Bowl this season.
And he’s far from perfect.
Well, he might actually be perfect in ONE way.
And that’s why he’s going to New Orleans next week despite the fact that lots of folks in Baltimore and around the country didn’t think he was capable of doing that.
Every Sunday from September until January 20, the comments flew fast and furious on Twitter, Facebook and on blogs all across the nation. The calls came in to talk radio every day, every hour. You might have been guilty of authoring one of those remarks about Flacco.
“I don’t care how good that defense is, Flacco will never take the Ravens to a Super Bowl.” Heard that one before? Yeah, me too. About ten thousand times.
“Flacco isn’t an elite quarterback. We better start thinking about drafting someone this April.” How many nutjobs in Baltimore wrote or said that during the regular season? Right. A-freakin’-lot.
“I sure hope the Ravens don’t sign this guy to a long-term deal. He can’t win the big one.”
He had some believers, of course, but the critics were loud.
Oh, and as it turns out, the haters were dead wrong.
How did it come to pass that Flacco proved himself to everyone? Because he has “the perfect mind”, that’s why.
The truly special athletes in the world all have one common trait.
Woods has it. Federer has it. Brady and Manning(s) have it. Jordan had it. So did Gretzky and Lemieux. Justin Verlander has it. I’m sure there are plenty of others I’m not listing who have “it” too. Martin Brodeur might have it better than any active athlete right now.
And Joe Flacco has it too.
What is “it”?
It’s the ability to forget what just happened — good or bad — and worry only about what lies ahead.
The greatest-of-the-greats were never afraid of the moment in front of them because they believed they were going to deliver the goods. They didn’t always make the play, of course, but that didn’t stop them from trying to do it the next time the opportunity presented itself.
There was a great Michael Jordan story, back in the glory days, when he was 0-for-11 in the second half of a critical regular season game against the Pistons. With seven seconds left, the inbounds play went to him and No. 23 hoisted up an 18-footer that found nothing but net and the Bulls won. Afterwards, reporters asked him why he would take such a shot when it was clear with his 0-for-11 shooting half that it just wasn’t his night. Jordan explained: “I just assumed there was no way I could miss twelve shots in a row. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before in my career, so I figured I’d make it.”
That’s the difference between a guy who would have passed on that shot and someone who wanted the game in his hands.
(Please see next page)