FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens walks off the field after losing to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The New England Patriots defeated the Baltimore Ravens 20-23. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Joe Flacco wants a new contract. He deserves one. He has won in the playoffs in all four years of his career, he's been to the AFC Championship game twice, he's thrown over 3,600 yards and 20 touchdowns every season he's played and he's never been hurt. Yet there are two reasons why he is valued lower than he should be.
Somehow, being drafted by a top organization with a uniquely talented running back and a fabled defense has hurt Flacco's legacy. All of his personal triumphs have always been redirected toward the glory of the team's other strengths. For a fleeting moment, Flacco had done it. In the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship in Foxborough, Joe Flacco led his team from behind and completed a perfectly thrown touchdown pass into the hands of Lee Evans with roughly 30 seconds to go to the Super Bowl. In the very next nanosecond, Sterling Moore knocked the ball from Evans' hands, and kept Flacco offstage again.
Had Evans hung on, Flacco could have changed public opinion of him and would join the ranks of those who at least made it to the game. His play was good enough to win, he proved the doubters wrong even though the team lost.
Still, I don't think the world is ready to give the nod to Flacco and would prefer to keep him mired in his own tragedy. We like him balanced precariously on the cusp of greatness without ever pouring him over the rim. For a thousand different reasons, not everybody wins and Joe Flacco is a walking example of such an Aesop moral.
Perhaps even the coldest among us might soften up to Poor Joe and maybe even root for him once in a while if the guy had a different attitude. As if the mockery of a mustache and the heavily-sedated facial expressions weren't enough, Joe decided to let us know—on a few occasions—that we all need to start appreciating him more. Such sentiments are hardly original, but when Flacco vents like that, he comes off as a moody little goth teen and everybody else screws up their faces listening to him. Joe seems adversarial, almost like a grossly uninformed conspiracy theorist who is offended at your disinterest in the evils of secret societies. No one wants to hear him complain of his perceived lack of value. Sympathy of any kind is hard to wrestle from the public, most of all when it deals with getting a few less million dollars. All the people want to hear is that he will try harder next year and that the business end will work itself out. Maybe that's how top athletes get screwed compared to their peers, I don't know, but as explained above, I don't really give a damn.
The funny part is, there is no way the Ravens aren't going to resign him. He has another year on his rookie contract, then he is going to hit the jackpot—compared to the rest-of-the-world standards. It probably won't be an elite contract, but he isn't an elite quarterback. If he wants the prime-rib of the Ravens' cash cow, he will either have to make sure that his touchdown pass doesn't get dropped next year, or pressure Ozzie Newsome privately in his office. Either way, the more he complains to all of us about not being liked enough, the less we like him at all.
Mojokong—to Cali the Cat!