Something I am starting to dislike about the world of sports analysis is that there are a lot of premade arguments. In any situation, there is a fallback defense that everyone accepts as truth. Today, we’re going to talk about the most recent premade argument: “Well, you want your quarterback to say that.”
We’re talking, of course, about quarterbacks defining themselves as the best at their position. Now, last year, before the start of the season, Eli Manning said he saw himself as an elite quarterback. And while many people had a field day with it, the defense popped up that Eli was almost forced to say it. I recall several analysts saying that it was a good thing Eli said it, that it gave Giants fans something to be proud of.
Eli Manning then went on to win his second Super Bowl, and he proved that no one should chuckle when he says things like this. Happy ending for everyone involved!
Except Joe Flacco.
So yesterday, Joe Flacco told a radio station that not only is he one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, he is THE Best. Capital T, capital B, possibly other capital letters as well. He used the “as a quarterback, you have to think that” defense, and this morning I heard Mike Greenberg on ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning say “you want to hear your quarterback say that.” He also went on to use that as proof the Ravens would win the Super Bowl, since Eli said something similar and then won. I’m not here to blast that kind of pitiful conjecture, so I’ll leave that one alone.
I am here to blast Joe Flacco, however, and the defense that he and others are hiding behind. Sure, confidence is good. And quarterbacks are not the only profession to use the “you have to think you’re the best” defense; rappers say it all the time too! But there’s a difference between rapping and playing football. Rapping is much more subjective, and there aren’t stats that accurately measure if a rapper is the best (I refuse to acknowledge “swag” as a unit of measurement). Joe Flacco has stats that can compare him to the top quarterbacks, and never throwing for more than 3600 yards and 25 TDs in a season is sort of telling in this case. On the bright side, though, his swag is probably out of control.
Eli’s Super Bowl MVP performance may lend credence to Flacco’s point. Perhaps that kind of confidence can help rally a team together. But there are some slight differences between Eli Manning and Joe Flacco. Manning had won a Super Bowl prior to his statement. He had earned a reputation for delivering in the clutch. He had made it to the Pro Bowl. Joe Flacco has had none of these things.
But he does have that sweet stache. So there's that.
It is the last of these that got my attention. Joe Flacco has never been acknowledged as one of the best quarterbacks in his conference. Not even the Pro Bowl in a year where all 3 voted quarterbacks declined to attend. In fact, he was passed by David Garrard that year. Some may argue that the Pro Bowl is a popularity contest, but the alternates aren’t voted by the fans. This was the league thinking that Joe Flacco didn’t deserve to make the Pro Bowl over David Garrard.
Another slight difference is that Eli was vague, while Flacco was annoyingly specific. Manning said he considered himself elite, a word that carries heavy connotation without actually specifying which quarterbacks Manning ranked himself ahead of. Flacco made everyone know for sure which quarterbacks he thought he outranked: everybody. Peyton Shmeyton. Drew Who. Tom “I Couldn’t Rhyme His First Name Humorously Enough But Come the Fuck On Everyone Knows He’s Better than Joe Fucking Flacco” Brady.
"You think you're the best? That's so adorable! I would take you out for ice cream, but I'll be busy preparing for the Super Bowl." - Tom Brady's actual quote (if he wanted me to love and respect him forever)
And the difference that probably only matters to me: Eli hadn’t been campaigning himself in the media before that interview. It seems that Flacco is always sensitive to questioning his skills as a quarterback. He’s always aggressively defending himself. “But Nate,” you say, “He’s only sensitive because he gets blasted in the media all the time!” That’s probably true, but you know what I take from that? If you’re getting blasted by the media all the time for your play, YOU’RE PROBABLY NOT THE BEST QUARTERBACK IN THE NFL. It’s not like every member in the media is out to get Joe Flacco. They’re voicing concerns because the Ravens are Super Bowl contenders every year but haven’t made it to the grand stage yet, and with their defense getting older every day, that window is closing.
Flacco may very well prove me wrong, and I won’t be upset if he does. I think the Ravens are a good, hard-working, dynamic team. But I don’t like quarterbacks rating themselves as best in the league without adequate proof, and I don’t like everyone defending him by saying, “He has to say it.” Sure, as a quarterback, he has to say it. Well, as a football blogger, I have to make fun of him as much as possible. Which includes flying to Baltimore and playing “You’re the Best Around” from Karate Kid every time he throws an interception.
Or hold up this sign!