|Flacco would like to remind you that you don't know what you're talking about. (Getty Images)|
By Ryan Wilson
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has rabbit ears. We suspect a lot of people in the public eye suffer from the affliction though a good many of them seem adept at keeping it to themselves. Ask a player if he's heard his online critics (media, social media, blogs -- it doesn't really matter) and more times than not the response will go something like this: "No, man. I don't pay attention to that stuff. I have enough to worry about."
The Ravens' PR staff either haven't apprised Flacco that such an approach makes for good non-answers or he has chosen to ignore them. Whatever the reason, put the Ravens' fourth-year quarterback in front of a microphone and he will lament the public perception of him as something less than a successful NFL quarterback.
The latest example: during Wednesday's media session, Flacco got worked up when the conversation turned to the recent history of elite quarterbacks winning Super Bowls.
"If you look at the teams that won, yeah you can look at the quarterbacks but that’s just because you guys, ESPN, everybody wants to pump them up as being the best quarterback that year. It’s really going to come down to what team is the best," Flacco said according to the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "I’m sure if we win, I’ll have nothing to do with why we won according to you guys. It is what it is. We’re going to do our best to try to win it and it doesn’t really matter what the reason is.”
With the irony no doubt lost him him, Flacco was reminded that Trent Dilfer went along for the ride during the Ravens' run to the Super Bowl in 2001.
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“I don’t care if people look at it that way," he said. "I don’t necessarily see it that way. You guys want everybody to be Aaron Rodgers and be Tom Brady, but you guys do realize, those guys' [teams] don’t run the ball? If we try to do that, the criticism that we’d take around here would be ridiculous. We could win eight games like that and we could lose one and you guys would be like, ‘Oh man, what are you guys doing?’ This is what you guys said you wanted and if you lose one game, oh my God. You guys got to remember that. You guys want an elite quarterback. You have to stop complaining when we go out there and throw the ball 60 times a game.’"
Worth noting: Flacco was grinning as he was speaking and Zrebiec writes that "his tone was never combative." So there's that. Still, the Ravens quarterback just shouldn't bring it up at all. Because even if he's mocking the media (and he most certainly is … and rightly so) all it does is remind people -- fairly or otherwise -- that he's whining about his plight.
In mid-December, Flacco called the overreactions by Ravens fans during wins or losses "hilarious." He's right -- fans of most teams are, well, fanatical -- but those are the sentiments you keep to yourself. Or at the very least, don't announce them publicly.
Of course, like most people who say they don't pay attention to the what's written about them, Flacco not only keeps close tabs, he also professes that he doesn't care.
We’ve won a lot of games around here," he said. "This is the second year in a row we’ve won 12 games, I could care less. At the end of the day, do you see the criticism sometimes and say, 'What the hell are they talking about? Yeah. But who cares, you know. It all comes down to three games now: win this one, win the next one and win the Super Bowl. What are they going to say? That’s what we got to do, that’s what I got to do. I’m not really thinking about anything else.”
The criticism comes down to this, Joe: you can go 16-0 every season but if the Ravens don't win it all, it's been a disappointing season. Are those expectations unfair? Maybe. Then again, Baltimore is annually considered one of the NFL's best teams. It's not like the expectations exceed the talent. Which means that if the Ravens come up short of a title, Flacco can expect to hear about it.
Upside: his embattled offensive coordinator has his back. That's right: Cam Cameron, the most highly criticized member of the Ravens organization, said Thursday that "That's one of the things I love about [Flacco]," he said according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Jason Butt. ... He's one of those guys that has the courage to say [what he did to the media Wednesday].... You have to have a competitive spirit in you."
Truth be told, fans would prefer Flacco save that competitive spirit for game days and leave the sound bytes to Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs.
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