First of all, congratulations are in order to the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots. These two put on dominating performances on Sunday and they were stout throughout the entire season. Both teams deserved to play in Super Bowl LI and I expect a fun shootout in Houston, Texas in two weeks. That being said, whether as a Ravens fan you don't mind it or just despise it, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco's draft class mate from 2008, is getting a shot at his first Super Bowl after waiting eight.
To me, it's not a big deal and I'm sure all Ravens fans and the entire country outside New England will be rooting for the Falcons on February 5th. If there is one thing that can make you a bit irritated, it's hearing all these national pundits talking about Ryan's "legacy" and how him winning a Super Bowl will put him in the upper echelon of quarterbacks in the game today. Meanwhile, Flacco has been winning and playing well in big games throughout his entire nine-year career which includes a Super Bowl. Just recently, he went into Pittsburgh on Christmas night and did everything he could to win the AFC North. Ryan just started winning big games this season.
Not once have you ever heard about Flacco's "legacy", he's just looked at as an anomaly that had no business winning. A guy who got lucky because of a defensive back's mistake on a cold night in Denver while those same people will continue to praise Aaron Rodgers 3rd-and-20 miracle throw in Dallas just last week. It was a great throw no doubt, but how does the Cowboys defense let that happen?
Putting that aside, there really is no gripe and Ryan's Super Bowl appearance in two weeks puts this 2008 quarterback draft class in good company. Over the years, there have been a total of 81 NFL Drafts, with the 82nd draft approaching quickly. Ryan's NFC Championship victory on Sunday now puts him and Flacco with 12 other NFL Draft classes that have produced multiple quarterbacks whom played in Super Bowls. 2008 now becomes the 13th draft class ever to produce such feat. Those classes are now:
- 1956: Earl Morrall, Bart Starr.
- 1961: Billy Kilmer, Fran Tarkenton.
- 1965: Joe Namath, Craig Morton.
- 1971: Ken Anderson, Jim Plunkett, Joe Theismann.
- 1979: Phil Simms, Joe Montana.
- 1983: Dan Marino, John Elway, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason.
- 1984: Jeff Hostetler, Boomer Esiason.
- 1988: Stan Humphries, Chris Chandler.
- 1995: Steve McNair, Kerry Collins
- 1998: Peyton Manning, Matt Hasselbeck.
- 2004: Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger.
- 2008: Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan.
- 2011: Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton.
Some great names on this list, including well known Hall of Famers. One Hall of Famer that I couldn't put on the 1984 draft class list due to the fact he was picked in the 1984 NFL supplemental draft for USFL and CFL players, Steve Young. Other names include backup quarterbacks who came in for their injured starters such as Jeff Hostetler and Colin Kaepernick.
Yet, through all of these draft classes, only four have produced multiple quarterbacks who’'be won Super Bowls.
1956 (Earl Morrall, Bart Starr),
1971 (Joe Theismann, Jim Plunkett)
1979 (Phil Simms, Joe Montana)
2004 (Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger)
Ryan will try to make the 2008 class with Flacco the fifth to enter the exclusive list.
No matter what you think about Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, the two possess quite the résumés in their now nine-year careers. Both became franchise quarterbacks for two organizations, who at the time were in desperate need of a quarterback. Flacco came in to a defensive dominated Ravens team going through a carousel of quarterbacks while Ryan entered a Falcons team just a year removed from the Michael Vick dog fighting arrest, which scarred the city of Atlanta.
Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco’s careers so far have made the 2008 draft class look strong. Flacco won his Super Bowl ring and now Ryan will not only try to get his first ring, but the first Super Bowl championship in the history of the Atlanta Falcons. It would also be the first championship for the city of Atlanta since the 1995 Atlanta Braves. Ryan will get his shot in two weeks on the grandest stage of them all with a lot of America rooting for the Falcons. Because let's face it, you don't want to see the Patriots win another one, do you?