Anquan Boldin represented everything it means to be a Baltimore Raven. He was tough, physical, and had the intangibles of a winner that can’t be taught. What he lacked in speed and size, he made up for with grit and hard work. He should have retired a Raven, but I digress.
The point here is not to harp on what happened in the past, or what should have happened with Anquan Boldin and his contract. Rather, it’s to talk about 2014 and look towards the future.
Being the good guy he his, “Q” made it to Torrey Smith’s charity basketball event this past weekend. When asked for his take on the signing of Steve Smith, he had nothing but great things to say.
“I think that’s a big pick up for them,” Boldin said. “I know Steve personally. Great player, hard worker, I think he’ll bring a tough mentality to the team offensively.”
Boldin’s endorsement of Steve Smith should be music to the ears of Ravens fans. While Boldin is a class act, he doesn’t sugarcoat things or mince words, and his praise of Steve Smith speaks volumes.
Smith and Boldin have a mutual respect. While they both admit they bring a different skill set to the field every Sunday, the intangible qualities that they contribute are very similar.
Leadership may be what the Ravens were missing the most last year, specifically on the offensive side of the ball. Yes, Joe Flacco leads in his own way, but having a vocal presence in the locker room and on the sideline is important. The Ravens offense missed that last year after trading Boldin; they have it again with Smith.
Both Smith and Boldin are well known for their tireless work ethic. Smith has been criticized by his former coach for, at times, working too hard. Even when he was encouraged to take days off to rest his veteran legs, he’d still be seen participating in group drills. Boldin brought a similar mentality to the day-to-day grind. He embraced mini-camps and voluntary workouts and lead by example.
Winning, or the will to win. It’s important to most players; it’s imperative to others. Boldin came to Baltimore to win a championship. After several disappointing years in Arizona, he wanted to be part of a winner. Ultimately, as we all fondly remember, he got his ring.
Smith signed with the Ravens for the same reason. Carolina did make the playoffs last year, but he was part of more losing seasons than winning ones. There is no doubt he signed with the Ravens because he wants a chance at a championship.
Certain things you can coach, certain things you can’t. What sets players like Smith and Boldin apart are the intangibles you can’t teach. The will to win, leadership and hard work go a long way, even for players a little past their prime.
The Ravens were missing those elements last year on offense. Welcome to Baltimore Steve Smith.