It has been eight days since the Baltimore Ravens earned the right to call themselves Super Bowl champions and I’m still in shock and awe. This 2012 season was truly a roller coaster ride from the get-go. So many thoughts and headlines have gone through my mind, but I had to narrow the choices down to four. This team went from being viewed as one of the juggernauts of the league after thrashing the Cincinnati Bengals in their first game, to one of the laughing stocks and pretenders in the postseason after falling in embarrassing fashion at home against the Broncos, to a team that hoisted the Lombardi trophy as the confetti dropped in New Orleans.
It’s safe to say that this city can finally bury the hatchet in regards to what happened in the postseason in 2011 with Billy Cundiff and Lee Evans.
This franchise and city have been out for redemption ever since the franchise came to Baltimore in 1996. Yes, the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000 and not many franchises can say they that they have been at the peak of the mountain like the Ravens have. Only 18 franchises out of the 32 in the league today can claim that they have won a Super Bowl title. There is an even smaller number  when you delve into the teams that have won multiple titles.
What earning that second title meant to this city and franchise was redemption that there should have never been a 13-year hiatus in having a professional football team in Baltimore… don’t give me the Stallions either.
The Baltimore Ravens faced so much adversity that it is almost fitting that they end the year with the NFL’s crown jewel in their possession.
First, the great former owner of the Baltimore Ravens, Art Modell, passed away. He is credited with bringing football back to Baltimore and this city and the team’s players couldn’t be more thankful for Mr. Modell. They wore a patch with his name on their jerseys all season long because they were playing out this season for Art.
Art was the kind of guy that would talk football with the guys, but was more concerned about their livelihoods and how they were growing as men. He would send the players emails and set up meetings with them just to talk with them about life. That’s why this team and city has such a great appreciation for this great man. His job was to make sure that each player was living out their dreams to the best of their ability and if they ever faced any adversity, he was their to guide them on the right path. The Ravens were clearly able to play out this season for a man that meant so much to them and I know he was shedding tears in heaven just as he was when the team brought him the Super Bowl in 2000.
Torrey Smith lost his brother before the New England game in Week Three and plays the game of his life, scoring two huge touchdowns on the national stage of Sunday Night Football on NBC. Earlier in the day, he was with his family and there were doubts that he would even play in the game. Instead, he comes out and puts the team on his back as they were propelled to victory by a Justin Tucker game-winning field goal.
All season long reporters were asking Torrey about why he would play in that game or how he played the entire season obviously with heavy hearts. Smith remained the consummate pro throughout the season and never let these questions bother him.
How would you feel if people kept asking you about your dead sibling?
Smith is truly an even bigger man that any of us could have ever predicted him to be when the Ravens took him in the second round of 2011′s NFL Draft.
Finally, this column can’t end without mentioning the quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens since 2008, Joe Flacco.
Flacco has faced so many positive and negative critiques since he’s arrived in Baltimore you would think he is a politician.
Joe is one of those guys where he makes it hard not to like him… and I didn’t initially. I had my doubts about a guy that transferred down to Delaware from Pittsburgh, where he couldn’t earn a starting job over Tyler Palko. I had my doubts because he wasn’t able to carry the team to victories early on in his career because he simply wasn’t developed enough to win the game on his arm solely. I had my doubts because he would make some throws, similar to Eli Manning, where he would just chuck the ball in the air and pray that a Raven comes down with it. The turnovers in the postseason were especially troubling.
However, that has changed in the past two seasons. Once he outperformed Tom Brady in the postseason last year, I took and step back and realized that his postseason career and the fate of the franchise have largely been characterized by dropped passes – - Anquan Boldin, Mark Clayton, Jacoby Jones, Dennis Pitta, T. J. Houshmandzadeh and of course Lee Evans. Flacco has done something no quarterback in NFL history has done; win a postseason game in his first five seasons in the NFL. Not even the great Joe Montana can make a claim to that feat. Flacco was also able to put himself in a category only Montana has accomplished in a postseason. Throwing for 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions is eye-popping, jaw-dropping and any other remarkable phrase you could come up with.
Joe has earned my respect in the last two years and going forward, he will be the guy leading this team to victories with his abilities on offense. Joe Cool has earned a fat pay day.