Growing up from Silver Spring, MD, you’d expect to see those kind of numbers on a Washington Post headline coupled with an, “Owner Daniel Snyder” and a Redskins player/coach.
Oh how times have changed. The Baltimore Ravens will pay Joe Flacco $120.6 million over a span of six years. The heavens-touching payment has all sorts of critics, cynics, fanatics and any other word that you could tag an ‘-ic’ to uproar, voicing their opinions whether or not the quarterback is worth it. Is he though?
Put on your thinking caps and dive into the complex world of the NFL.
1) Quarterbacks live in a vault
A quarterback’s personal life is somewhat like the one that we see on the field every weekend. Constantly bombarded, hassled, harassed, and chased down. Whether it’s the gridiron or behind the scenes, the quarterback is juggling pressure. The men protecting him off the field when he’s lounging around in his sweatpants are his coaches and other members in the front office.
2. We’re talking about Baltimore here; not Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Patriots, Denver…
The Ravens hail from the AFC North. The Bengals are on the rise. Cleveland won’t be easy to bring down. The Steelers, well, they’ve two Super Bowl victories in the past decade. This Division contains a plethora of strong personalities, and while coaches are incessantly refurbishing their schemes, it’s feasible to slip behind the other and fall down to the bottom half.
Third or fourth place in the Division usually doesn’t cut it in the AFC (maybe the NFC, Eagles/Giants/Cowboys) to qualify for the playoffs. But chances of clinching a playoff berth in the AFC? Tough. Exactly what the Ravens need from their star. Toughness. The past is the past. Super Bowl champion or not, five straight playoff berths or not, those things were undoubtedly factored in, but as a business-minded owner, this is a justifiable investment. Look at the Colts in the Manning-era for instance. No one in their division came close to upending them when Manning stepped on the field 208 consecutive regular-season times. They won games with ease; no disrespect to him, obviously, but Indianapolis handed Manning the right amount of money to play at a high level. He was given a reason to demolish teams by throwing extraneous touchdown passes. Same with Tom Brady. For a while, the Patriots finished first in their division. Tom Brady didn’t have much to worry about when visiting or hosting Miami, New York or Buffalo. Money should be spent to players to keep them hungry and passionate to feed their drive. Which is why I trust that the Ravens made this move to guarantee Joe Flacco’s efforts all while keeping him balanced and level-headed throughout the season. Because $120.6 million doesn’t come packaged with excuses.
3. Defense no matter what
Baltimoreans just lost the heart and soul of their team. Ray Lewis is gone. Sure they have a whole offseason to do some soul-searching but it’s pretty clear that the great linebacker’s presence will be missed.
The Ravens are entrusting #5 to be the new #52. As long as we live, all of fankind will believe to the day that we die that DEFENSE wins CHAMPIONSHIPS. I’ll be reciting that on my death bed. I promise. Engrave it on my tombstone.
We witnessed Ray Lewis’ team almost lose to the 49ers in the Super Bowl. Point blank. Colin Dappernick and Co. almost pulled off the miracle for the ages but lost by executing three consecutive plays designed to the right side of the field. I’m still confused about that–but that’s not the point. Would Joe Flacco be looking at a delicious plate of $120.6 million today if they had lost? Jacoby Jones did field a kickoff return to the house, but hey, Joe Flacco executed everything in his power and got the job done.
Which was to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Baltimore, after twelve long years.