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Clearly, opponents and national media respect Joe Flacco; it’s just that nobody knows how much respect to give the Ravens’ young quarterback.
To begin a NFL Total Access examination of this Sunday’s Flacco-Brady matchup, Rich Eisen remarked, “Some people are saying it’s a battle of elite quarterbacks.”
The camera was not on Eisen when he made his statement; Flacco highlights were playing on the screen while he was commenting. The camera also was not on Rod Woodson who rolled his eyes and chuckled in the background at Eisen’s observation.
Even Flacco’s No. 1 receiver, Derrick Mason, won’t go as far as to put the two quarterbacks in the same category.
“No, you can’t compare the two.” Mason said. “That would be unfair to try to compare the two. Obviously, Tom’s one of the best in the game, and Joe’s a young, up-and-coming quarterback. Joe’s very good in his own right, but it’s unfair to compare the two. Tom has three Super Bowls.”
The University of Delaware alum has competed well. He is fourth in the league in touchdowns (6), fifth in passer rating (101.4) and seventh in passing yards (839). But, this isn’t a stat race.
Two things need to happen before we can consider Joe Flacco as one of the best, and without people chuckling or rolling their eyes at the very thought.
First, as Mason alluded, Joe has to win Super Bowl rings. He was one game shy of that chance last season, so he may be on his way.
Second, Flacco has to go head-to-head with the elite, and then beat the elite.
Conveniently, the Ravens 2009 schedule affords Flacco the opportunity to compete against every active elite quarterback the NFL has to offer.
So far, Flacco has already battled and defeated San Diego QB Phillip Rivers, although his elite status can also be debated. Still to come this season are Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger (twice).
That’s a sophomore quarterback versus 47 years of NFL experience, 1,113 touchdown completions, 155,455 passing yards, 646 games played, 64 playoff games as the starting quarterback, 24 Pro Bowls, nine Super Bowls, seven Super Bowl rings, three Super Bowl MVP awards, and seven NFL MVP awards.
Not to mention Carson Palmer and Aaron Rogers, who are no slouches either.
If Joe Flacco can come out victorious against these warriors, or even just a few of them, Rich Eisen will be able to mention the words “Flacco” and “elite” in the same sentence without Rod Woodson rolling his eyes.
That brings us to Sunday’s Ravens-Patriots showdown. Flacco is challenging a three-time Super Bowl champion, who incidentally, won his first ring his sophomore season.
“Joe Cool” is coming into the game red hot, leading his team to a 3-0 record this season while scoring 38, 31 and 34 points in those three victories. Tom Brady (1-2) is still rusty and isn’t in sync with his receivers coming off knee reconstruction surgery.
The opportunity couldn’t be better. And if Joe pulls this one off, the next title on an ESPN homepage graphic with Flacco and Brady facing each other could read, “A Battle Between the Best” instead of “Measuring Stick.”