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Posts Tagged ‘Drew Brees’

Is Joe Flacco an Elite NFL Quarterback?

In Sports on February 1, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Joe Flacco

Sports media members and football analysts love to debate whether or not a particular NFL quarterback has achieved “elite” status.  It is almost universally agreed upon that Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees fall under the category of “elite.”  Beyond this top tier of NFL quarterbacks, there is always debate about which other quarterbacks deserve to be in the same category as the top four.  Before the 2011 season began, Eli Manning stated in an interview that he considered himself to be in the elite category with Brady.  His statement was the source of great debate on sports talk radio shows.  When he helped the New York Giants defeat the New England Patriots for a second Super Bowl championship in a five-year period, many people started to jump on the Eli bandwagon.  Super Bowl victories have a way of elevating quarterbacks from good to great, which is why the debate over Joe Flacco’s elite status has kicked into high gear this week.  Quite frankly, the debate over elite quarterbacks serves no real purpose since “elite” is in the eye of the beholder.

Throughout the course of NFL history, there have been quarterbacks who have achieved tremendous success without winning a Super Bowl, and they rarely get mentioned in the conversation of greatest quarterbacks of all time.  Aside from Dan Marino – who appeared in one Super Bowl – many other quarterbacks such as Dan Fouts, Warren Moon and Jim Kelly are largely unrecognized for their accomplishments because they never won a championship.  Flacco has already done something that no other quarterback in NFL history has done by winning at least one playoff game in each of his first five seasons, but his ticket into the highly subjective elite NFL QB club won’t be punched if the Baltimore Ravens fail to beat the San Francisco Forty Niners in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, which is kind of absurd.

What happens if Flacco throws three touchdowns and no interceptions as he has already done twice this year in the playoffs, but the Ravens lose because of a costly fumble, a special teams miscue or the defense can’t figure out how to shut down the Niners dual-threat quarterback, Colin Kaepernick?  Does that lessen Flacco’s accomplishments because his team didn’t win?  Conversely, what if Flacco throws for less than 200 yards, throws no touchdowns and an interception, but the Ravens find a way to beat the Niners in spite of a less-than-stellar performance from their quarterback?  Does he still get elevated to elite status because his team won?

The conversation about whether or not a quarterback is a “franchise quarterback” makes perfect sense.  After all, in today’s pass-happy NFL, the chances of a team winning the Super Bowl with an average to below average quarterback are slim to none.  Aside from Brad Johnson guiding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory in 2003, and Trent Dilfer guiding the Ravens to their first Super Bowl victory in 2001, no other “game-managing” quarterbacks have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in several decades.

The bottom line is that teams with franchise quarterbacks compete for Super Bowl victories, while teams without them generally don’t.  Football is the ultimate team game, and no one really cares whether or not their quarterback is considered “elite” when they win a Super Bowl.  Even if the Ravens lose the Super Bowl, there is no doubt that Flacco is a franchise quarterback who is good enough to lead his team to a Super Bowl in any given year.  Win or lose on Sunday, Flacco is going to be one of the highest paid NFL quarterbacks when he signs a new contract after the season, regardless of whether the “experts” elevate him to elite status or not.

Perseverance

In Inspiration and Motivation, Life Lessons on January 25, 2010 at 7:05 am

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans.  The Superdome was used as a makeshift “shelter of last resort” for those who were unable to evacuate New Orleans before Katrina hit.  However, during the storm, a large section of the outer covering was ripped off by Katrina’s 140-mph winds, rendering the Superdome unsafe, and leaving the Saints without a home.

In the scheme of things, the loss that was suffered by the people of New Orleans was much worse than a football team not having a home stadium.  However, the Saints are important to the people of New Orleans, so not having them to cheer for only made matters worse.

Scrambling to find a place to play their home games, the Saints were able to work out their schedule so that they played half of their home games in LSU’s Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, and the other half in the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX (although their first “home” game ended up being at Giants Stadium).

Initially, it seemed that there was no way that the Saints would ever be able to return to New Orleans.  Even if the Superdome was returned to its pre-Katrina condition, who would come to the games?  It was believed that the people of New Orleans would be so focused on rebuilding their lives, that they wouldn’t have the time, money or inclination to support their beloved team of nearly 40 years.  While everyone sympathized with the plight of the people of New Orleans, most football experts and fans believed that they would never be able to support an NFL team again.

It didn’t take long for the rumors of a permanent move to San Antonio to start spreading like wildfire.  Was it really possible that the Saints had played their last game ever in New Orleans?  Was the city about to suffer another blow to its already-fragile psyche?  Thankfully, the answer to both of these questions turned out to be a resounding “NO!”

Against all odds, the Saints played their 2006 home opening game in the Superdome on September 26th.  It was a Monday night, in front of a national audience, against the Atlanta Falcons.  The Saints came into the game having already won their first two games of the season on the road.  It seemed that everyone in the country (with the exception of Falcons fans) was pulling for the Saints to win the home game that most thought would never come to fruition.

I still remember the game as if it happened last week.  You could feel the electricity of the crowd just by watching on TV.  The Saints played the game as if it were the last game that the franchise would ever play, rather than the first of many that they would play in the Superdome.  When it was all said and done, the Saints emerged victorious by soundly thrashing the Falcons by a score of 23-3.  It was, by far, the most exciting non-playoff game that I have ever seen.

The record books will show that the victory went to the Saints.  However, the real victory belonged to the people of New Orleans, as they proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Saints belonged to them – NOT San Antonio, NOT Los Angeles or ANY other rumored destination.

It would have been very easy for the people of New Orleans to worry about their own personal well being, and not to focus on keeping a football team from relocating, as so many other teams had already done to their respective fan bases.  But the Saints are more than just a football team to the people of New Orleans.  They are a part of the culture, just like Mardi Gras, jazz music, alligator-filled swamps and a whole lot more.  Losing the Saints would have meant losing a part of the proud culture that exists in New Orleans, and the team never would have been the same had they relocated.

The Saints have been a part of the NFL since 1967.  It took 34 years for the team to win its first playoff game.  It would seem that a team like this would be “ripe for the picking” and easy to move to another city.  However, the Saints have one of the best fan bases in the NFL.  The fans NEVER quit on their team.  Not during the losing years, and not during the most difficult time that the city has ever endured.

When the Saints take the field in Miami for Super Bowl XLIV, they will do so as more than just the best team in the NFC.  They will take the field as a shining example of what can be achieved with perseverance.  It is only fitting that they will do so with quarterback, Drew Brees, at the helm.

At 6-0 tall, and weighing only 209-lbs., Drew Brees is anything but the prototypical NFL quarterback.  His early struggles when he came into the league caused his first team (the San Diego Chargers), to draft a quarterback to replace him after only three seasons.  Brees could have easily cashed a paycheck and accepted a role as a career back-up quarterback, but he believed in himself, and was determined to prove his worth.  He is now considered by most to be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.

Players in the NFL are pre-judged by their measurables (height, weight, speed, strength).  Those with the “right” measurables for their respective position are given chance after chance to live up to their potential.  On the other hand, those that do not possess ideal size, speed and strength must continue to prove their worth even after they’ve achieved a degree of success.

What cannot be determined with a measuring tape and a stop watch, however, is heart, determination and how someone will react to adversity.  As Martin Luther King Jr. said…the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt said…when you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

In 2005, the city of New Orleans tied a collective knot and hung on to their Saints, despite predictions from outsiders that they couldn’t.  It took five years, but they have finally been rewarded for their perseverance with their first-ever trip to the Super Bowl.  I, for one, hope that this story has a Hollywood ending, and that the Saints emerge victorious against the Colts!

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