For almost a decade, many media pundits and fans alike have questioned Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco’s passion for the game of football. They believe that he just doesn't care and they point to such things like his body language and attitude. They mistake the fact that he doesn't scream and yell like Philip Rivers, doesn't dab like Cam Newton or throw his arm around and scream before a game and after every touchdown like Tom Brady for an apparent lack of caring. They take one look at him on the sidelines when the TV cameras are on him and its always the same thing, he's sitting on the bench looking like the cartoon character Droopy. When it comes to many quarterbacks in the NFL, you always hear from the national media about how they study hard in the film room or how you always see them screaming and yelling to teammates on the sidelines as a sign of the quarterbacks fire and determination for the game. If you turn on any sports television network expecting to hear the same thing about Joe Flacco, don't get your hopes up. He's usually used for comedy purposes.
Its a perception Flacco’s fought off his entire career and with him struggling this season the talk is out there more than ever before. Now, Ray Lewis might've opened the floodgates. A teammate of Flacco's for the first five seasons of the quarterbacks career, Lewis was on Fox Sports 1's "Speak For Yourself" with Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock and commented on Flacco's struggles this season. The two time defensive player of the year stated, "There's called something about being passionate about what you do, about really what you do. Me being around it, gifted? Absolutely. Passionate about what he does? I've never seen that. I don't know what that looks like."
Ray Lewis went on to mention about Flacco "isolating" himself from teammates on the sidelines no matter if its after a good play or a bad play. He went on to say, "Some people will be co-workers, some people will be teammates and then some people you may call friends, I call Joe Flacco a teammate."
Its true that Flacco doesn't have that fiery persona like Ray Lewis did during his career. You won't see Flacco do the squirrel dance before every game. You won't see Flacco huddle the team and scream "What time is it?" and "Are the dogs in the house?" That's okay because that doesn't mean that Flacco does not have a passion for football. In this day and age of social media and 24/7 news, you always have to be someone that's doing something worth discussing whether its controversial or not. Its unfortunate that you can't just be a cool and calm guy that keeps things on the inside and only speaks when the doors are closed anymore. That's who Flacco is.
Two years ago on the final week of the 2014 regular season with the Ravens playing for their playoff lives and tied 3-3 at halftime against the Cleveland Browns, Flacco went up to his teammates in the locker room and said "Lets go win a (expletive) game. (Expletive)!" The Ravens defeated the Browns 20-10 on the arm of Flacco as he threw two touchdown passes in the 4th quarter to lift the Ravens to the postseason. Former teammate Torrey Smith said after the game, "Y"all act like Joe is the most boring guy in the world, man. He has some fire in him. You can't expect anything long from Joe, but the delivery was powerful." Earlier this year, after the Ravens came from behind to defeat the Browns 25-20 after being down 20-0, wide receiver Mike Wallace commented on Flacco's state of mind during that deficit. "I honestly have probably never been around anyone as cool as Joe. Just the way he acts to situations. He's like, 'Whatever. We're down 20-0. Whatever. Its the way he makes you think, like, 'its no problem."
Whenever a friend of mine say's to me that Flacco "doesn't care, look at the way he plays" I cringe. It is a bogus statement. I show plays like his 16 yard run on 3rd and 15 buried at his own 15 yard line to give the Ravens a key first down with 3:02 left in a 9-6 win against the Kansas City Chiefs back in 2012. Or against the Minnesota Vikings a year later, during a cold and snowy day in Baltimore when Flacco got away from defenders and scrambled out of the pocket for a 22-yard run while taking a big hit, or staying in the game on the final drive against the Rams a year ago with a torn ACL. I then say "Does this look like someone who doesn't care?" How about the Mile High Miracle to Jacoby Jones? Do we forget about that? Does Ray Lewis forget about it?
Flacco is who he is, a leader who will lead by example and speak when it is necessary. He's a guy with a particular demeanor. He can handle adversity, never panicking. It’s been proven over the years but sadly, the perception about him will never change. Ray Lewis has seen it for himself the kind of leader Flacco is and the way he carries himself, he knows that. That's why it’s sad he said this. Not every leader has to be Ray Lewis to show how much he loves the game of football. If Flacco did the things that Rivers, Newton, Brady and Lewis did, he'd be laughed at because that's not who he is.
One thing is for sure, Flacco won't be affected by his former teammates comments about him. He will continue to carry himself with the same cool and calm demeanor that has defined him for 9 years now. That's Joe Flacco. If Ray Lewis doesn't like it, all he has to do is look at that Super Bowl XLVII championship ring of his to find his answer about his former quarterback.