NEW ORLEANS, La. — Remember that time when I asked Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco that thing?
I’m sure you remember it. If not, I’m happy to refresh your memory…
Oh right. NOW you remember. I asked Joe Flacco if he thought he was a “Top 5″ NFL quarterback (which had been a hot offseason debate), and he responded by telling me he thought he was THE BEST quarterback in the National Football League.
I bring this conversation back up because it seemed like everyone ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET wanted to remind you of those comments every time Flacco had a moment this season that may have been slightly more “down” than “up.”
During the week, Flacco’s comments to WNST were featured prominently in the coverage NFL Network and ESPN gave in New Orleans. On Sunday, the comments were part of the pre-game package that aired on CBS.
The comments became such a prominent part of the narrative surrounding the Ravens’ fifth year starter that it almost reached the point where you couldn’t make commentary about Flacco without including them. You would either hear “sure, Joe Flacco had a good game-but let’s not forget he thinks he’s the best quarterback in football and he most certainly wasn’t today” or if he struggled perhaps you’d hear something along the lines of “when Joe Flacco plays like this it becomes more and more laughable that he considers himself the best quarterback in football.”
Instead of judging Joe Flacco on his numbers or the Ravens’ record, it became increasingly popular to judge him based on a legitimate answer to a throwaway question presented in the context of a charity radio event at a local bar.
Joe Flacco told me something else that night back in April over in Perry Hall that didn’t get nearly the same amount of publicity. It’s equally worth remembering, however. Fast forward to the 7:30 mark of the above video.
“Everybody wants to go back and forth-’we’re this kind of team, we’re that kind of team.’ Well, you know what kind of team we need to be? We need to be a Super Bowl champion team.”
He added “I love winning and I’m going to continue to win no matter what our numbers are.”
I’m starting to think we should have taken this sentence and carved it into stone for prosperity.
Joe Flacco very much so continued to win this season after making those comments. He won double digit regular season games once again, a second AFC North title, a first AFC Championship and Sunday night capped it with a SPARKING Super Bowl MVP performance to win his first ever Vince Lombardi Trophy. Of course, the numbers in the postseason came WITH the winning, as Flacco put together a Joe Montana-esque 11 touchdown, zero interception stretch over four games. The final three TD’s came against Montana’s former team, the San Francisco 49ers, inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Sunday night in Super Bowl XLVII.
So now I put it right back to you, Baltimore Ravens fans? Is Joe Flacco a Top 5 NFL quarterback? Is he the best quarterback in football?
Or perhaps you’re really thinking to yourself “this doesn’t even matter.” That’s essentially what your quarterback is thinking.
“I’ve never cared. I don’t ever want to feel like I’m in a position to defend myself” the quarterback said after hoisting the Lombardi Trophy Sunday night. “It’s not right. I don’t have to do that. We’ll have (the Super Bowl win) forever.”
That’s the answer. It doesn’t matter. It didn’t matter in April. It didn’t matter when the season started. It absolutely didn’t matter in the postseason. It will not matter at all moving forward.
Joe Flacco is a great NFL quarterback. There’s simply no doubting that at this point. Whether that means he’s Top 5, Top 10 or the best quarterback in the game-I’ll leave that for you to decide.
The comments everyone in Baltimore and around the country should have cared much more about were the comments about needing to be the type of team that can win a Super Bowl title. The comments everyone in Baltimore and around the country should have cared more about were the comments about a guy caring much more about winning than numbers.
It shouldn’t have taken a magical postseason run for Charm City to fall in love with this quarterback. It shouldn’t have taken a magical postseason run for many national commentators to realize the guy could really play quarterback and had changed the culture of one of the more successful franchises in the league.
Perhaps Monday would be a good day for those of you in Baltimore that haven’t started fawning over your quarterback yet to start doing so. I’d stop a bit shy of “hero worship”, but I’d make your love known.
I haven’t even bothered with throwing out the word “elite” yet. That one doesn’t matter either. (But the answer is now YES for those scoring at home.)
I’m grateful Joe Flacco had the bravado to step up and tell me he thought he was the best quarterback in football last year. I think that bravado served him well in leading the Baltimore Ravens to their first Super Bowl title in 12 years.
I’m significantly more grateful that Joe Flacco always cared so much about winning. It made for an unforgettable weekend on the Bayou for this particular Baltimore native.