First and foremost. Steve McNair is the starting quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens-when and if he is healthy! If we are going to the promised land of Glendale in February, he will be the one that will have driven us.
Kyle Boller can be criticized for many things: poor recognition of defenses, lack of pocket presence, and happy feet, but things that Ravens fans, especially long time Baltimoreans, can admire are his toughness and character.
During his five years, his play has led him to be one of the most debated and polarizing figures in the history of our town. He has taken more than his fair share of shots both on the field and definitely off it. He has been mentally, emotionally and physically beaten.
He has been booed and booed and booed even louder. Who will ever forget September 11, 2005, when a few thousand knuckleheads actually cheered when he got hurt at M&T Bank Stadium?
Discussion of his play has filled weeks, not hours on sports talk radio. Callers have propped up such journeyman as Anthony Wright, Derek Anderson and Chris Redman to Hall of Fame status and openly lobbied for this trio. Like any of those guys are Tom Brady or Peyton Manning?.
This preseason some fans were calling for his outright release so that Troy Smith and Drew Olson could backup McNair. You wonder how the kid has kept his sanity. Or, why he would sign for another year?
Physically, playing behind a bad pass blocking line that included a slow Orlando Brown and the human turnstile Bennie Anderson, he took some brutal hits. Want proof? He missed substantial time in 2003 (knee) and 2005 (toe and foot). Last Sunday, behind three rookies, he once again took a pounding.
Let’s not forget the great receivers he was given in his first couple of season at the helm: the great Frank Sanders, Travis "Hands of Stone" Taylor and Where haven you gone? Marcus Robinson. Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne–hardly!.
Then last year he was relegated to a back-up role and listened as teammates, media and fans hailed the arrival of the new born king McNair.
Through it all Boller showed nothing but maturity and class. He has always been a stand up guy. Did you ever hear him say his offensive line was bad or that his receivers stunk? Has he ever once criticized the fans or the media for their treatment? Wasn’t he always the one doing the interviews especially in 2005 when the team was in the tank? Instead of pouting, he took his benching in stride. He worked hard, kept his mouth shut, and stayed ready. He has studied and learned from McNair, and when called up, he has as performed above average.
Is he the franchise quarterback we thought we drafted in 2003? Probably not. Can ever be a solid starter? Maybe? What he is right now is a solid high character back-up who has helped us win three games this year. He has faced adversity and shown a grit that this town can admire.