The End of the ‘Elite’ Era

Street Talk The End of the ‘Elite’ Era

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The best quarterback in Ravens history is packing his bags and heading to “Mile High.”

It’s a somewhat unceremonious departure for the former University of Delaware product.

After having a good start to the 2018 season, Flacco injured his hip against the Pittsburgh Steelers in November and lost his job to rookie Lamar Jackson after the bye week. What will be lost in the latest media maelstrom is that Flacco was the savior of a franchise that was venturing into the unknown during his rookie campaign in 2008.

Entering camp with Troy Smith and Kyle Boller that year, Flacco didn’t really seem like the player that would solidify the position for 11 seasons. But after leading the Ravens to the AFC Championship game, the hype for the strong-arm quarterback was mounting.

In the ensuing seasons, Flacco delivered some of the most memorable moments in franchise history:

— 92-yard drive to beat Pittsburgh 23-20 in 2012

— 4th and 29 play in San Diego with Ray Rice

–“Mile High Miracle” in Denver.

All of those moments culminated in Baltimore winning Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. The team was led by Flacco’s 11:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Flacco got PAID the next season, signing a then-record six-year, $120.6-million contract. The deal was initially well-received but soured over time as the team only made the playoffs twice since winning that Super Bowl in 2013.

The Ravens could never find traction after shelling out that money, failing to develop as a continuous championship contender around their $100-million man.

I know that Flacco will never be considered historically great, but for the longest time, he was a big part of the team that made me fall in love with football. I was in fifth grade when Flacco was drafted. Now, I am writing articles and working as a full-grown adult. Some fans of other franchises don’t know what it’s like to have a quarterback tenured as long as Flacco. We are lucky and this fanbase has certainly been spoiled with 16 non-losing seasons in the 23 years since the franchise moved from Cleveland.

“Joe Cool” was the picture of professionalism during his tenure — a vision of a bygone era. He was criticized for never showing much emotion, but it was certainly a breath of fresh air in the flamboyance and egotism of today’s NFL. Flacco leaves Baltimore as the franchise’s career passing leader, the only Ravens quarterback with more than 38,000 passing yards. He also leaves with a 96-67 record, the winningest quarterback to ever wear purple.

I know I speak for most fans when I say thanks for everything, Joe, and good luck in the rest of your career.

Denver just got the consummate professional.

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