Once upon a time, a young quarterback by the name of Eli Manning made an earth shattering claim about his status as a top quarterback in the NFL. Manning was asked on the Michael Kay Show if he was in the same class as Tom Brady and Manning’s response was, and I quote, “I consider myself in that class.”
This was in the summer of 2011. Fast forward to the end of Super Bowl XLVI and who was hoisting the Lombardi trophy? Eli Manning.
Over the off-season after Manning’s victory, another quarterback said something similar. During a radio interview in Baltimore, this quarterback said, and I quote, “I mean, I think I’m the best. I don’t think I’m top five, I think I’m the best. I don’t think I’d be very successful at my job if I didn’t feel that way.” The quarterback who said these words was Joe Flacco.
Fast forward to Super Bowl XLVII and who is in the Super Bowl? Joe Flacco.
Are you noticing a trend here? I wonder who will come out after the Super Bowl and say they are elite. Russell Wilson? Jay Cutler? Tony Romo? JaMarcus Russell? Ok, maybe not the last one, but you get the idea.
Ignore the coincidence for a brief moment. In sports, it is said that the best teams are the ones who meet in the finals, so naturally, the best quarterbacks are on the team, correct? Well, you have a backup QB turned into superstar overnight on one side in Colin Kaepernick and a quarterback who people flip-flop more than a cook at IHOP on whether or not he is an elite quarterback in Joe Flacco. Doesn’t sound like the best two quarterbacks in the NFL, but nevertheless, it is the hand dealt.
Back to the coincidence.
Flacco has been in the NFL for five years. During his time in the NFL, he has led the Ravens to the playoffs every season, something the great Tom Brady never did. He holds the NFL record for most wins of a quarterback in his first 80 starts and the most starts by a quarterback in his first five seasons, which means he is durable and capable of winning. In order to be elite, you need to possess those two qualities and Flacco has proven he has them. Not only has he proven to be a winner, but he has solidified himself as the best quarterback in Baltimore Ravens history. He holds the franchise record for passing yards, touchdowns, completions, you name it. And to his credit, he is the only quarterback to start and win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons.
Flacco does not need to win the Super Bowl this Sunday to prove he is elite because he already is. If we are going to say names like Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and Eli Manning are elite, then Flacco needs to be in the same class because he has proven to be just as reliable and consistent. He has the wins, the playoff experience, and the durability to show for it. Might I also mention, the four quarterbacks mentioned previously are not in the Super Bowl, Joe Flacco is.
The term “Fluke-O” should not even exist because nothing Flacco has achieved has been a fluke. He earned his spot on the Ravens with tenacious play at the University of Delaware, flying under the radar before exploding to the scene in the NFL Combine back in 2008. In the 2008 NFL Draft, Flacco was the second and last quarterback picked in the first round. Who came before him? A guy by the name of Matt Ryan, who hasn’t produced as much as Joe Flacco.
I apologize in advance to my colleagues in Boston College, but it is the truth. It took Ryan 5 years to do what Flacco did in one; make a playoff game.
If Flacco comes out with a victory on Sunday, it just validates the claim of elite status further and with a win, Flacco should then be mentioned in the same breath as Tom Brady. Sure, Brady may have 3 Super Bowl titles to his credit, but that was nine seasons ago. The past two seasons, Flacco has outplayed Brady in the playoffs and were it not for a dropped pass and a missed field goal last season, the Ravens would have made the Super Bowl, not the Patriots. This year provided vindication for that excruciating loss, but no Super Bowl victory is needed to prove Flacco is elite.
He already is.