Flacco hasn’t changed his laid-back demeanor over these last two weeks as reporters have offered praise while also peppering him about the Ravens’ turnaround from a three-game losing streak in December. He only shrugs his shoulders and laughs when asked how he always remains so calm or prompted to describe what teammates mean when they say, “Joe is just always Joe.”
This week in New Orleans has given the world a bigger glimpse of what Flacco is truly like, but he still has work to do to cement his legacy both in Baltimore and in NFL history. Perhaps the most refreshing part of Flacco’s personality is that you don’t expect him to change if he does win a championship, but it will alter how everyone else views him.
“I think he gets the respect from the people that he cares about most,” offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell. “His teammates, his coaches, and those people that are close to him, and I think that’s what counts. I think everyone else has a way they evaluate different individuals at his position and that relates to our sport, but I think he handles that well.”
As many have talked about the potential storybook ending of Lewis walking away from the field with a second championship, perhaps the better tale is the 17th-year linebacker — and aging core of defensive players that includes Reed, Terrell Suggs, and even Haloti Ngata — turning to the rising quarterback to finally lead the Ravens back to the pinnacle after years of dominating defenses largely wasted by subpar offensive play.
Lewis passed his title of “The General” to Flacco prior to the win over the Broncos in the divisional round, but the quarterback officially receives his stripes with a win in New Orleans. What better way to truly pass the torch than for Lewis to hand off the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Flacco in a post-game celebration on Sunday night.
“He’s going to be the quarterback in Baltimore for a long, long time,” Lewis said. “He’s proven that. He’s earned that. And now, it’s his time to start taking that next step. Talent fades, but leadership will last forever and he has the ability to be not just a great talent but an awesome leader as well.”
No time appears better than now as Flacco is in the midst of the best stretch of his career. He’s been the best quarterback in the NFL over the last month, and he only needs to continue that trend to put his team in position to win its second NFL championship.
Triumph in Super Bowl XLVII would change how he’s viewed forever, even if Flacco is too busy studying his playbook and preparing for the same game he’s played for years to really take notice or even an interest in what others think about him. He’s the only one not caught up in the moment, wondering if it’s finally his time.
“That’s not really for me to worry about,” Flacco said. “You guys will talk about all of that stuff and debate it no matter what, so it’s just our job and my job to go out there and play the best we can.”
If the Ravens do that, we’ll be talking about a championship for the 28-year-old quarterback.
He won’t be viewed in the same light as a Montana or an Elway, but the sky would be the limit for a new era of Baltimore football.
Including a true changing of the guard for the Ravens.