Maybe it’s his monotone voice or his emotionless face and pseudo unibrow. Maybe it’s the lack of big stats or highlight reel plays. Whatever it is, Joe Flacco just does not seem to stick out. The 6’6 signal caller for the Baltimore Ravens is not exactly eye catching compared to the quick-witted Peyton Manning or the dashing Tom Brady. However, his uncommon honesty has caught the attention of everyone who follows the NFL. When it comes down to it, Flacco is not your average Joe.
Professional sports are full of stock questions and bland answers. Despite his looks and play, Flacco is anything but bland. He stirred up the media once again this past week when he told the Baltimore press. He admitted that he is not a fan of the wild cat offense his team employed on Sunday in their 19-3 win over the New York Jets.He expressed the believe that the wild cat offense makes them look like, “a high school offense.”
Flacco did not seem malicious in his interview, just that he would prefer to be the man behind center running the show. Having to resort to this means he is not getting the job done as a quarterback and he and the rest of the offense needs to improve. Of course that is not what sold the story to your average reader, most headlines across America read, “Flacco Rips Wildcat” and the articles themselves called Flacco’s leadership into question.
Was what he saying really that bad?
Picture Tom Brady or Peyton Manning happily discussing using the wildcat to the excess. Would Drew Brees or Andrew Luck tell you how much they enjoyed lining up wide, not being part of the play? Highly unlikely. One can even look to the Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow experiment from a year ago that did not leave either man too happy about how the offense ran. Yet, Flacco is called out for his lack of leadership over saying exactly what was on his mind.
Flacco was taken to task in the media a year ago when he said that he was one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Again, that is the only part you would see mentioned by the media. The part where he qualified the fact that it is important to feel that you’re the best when you step on the field whether it’s true or not was not as widely reported. It was the only real answer he can give that does not make him look pathetic.
“Well I think I’m about 10th in the league, but if Andy Dalton has a good week, maybe 11th.”
He answered the question honestly and confidently. Of course, the media took that as an opportunity to tear him apart. Luckily for Flacco the 11 touchdowns with zero interceptions in the playoffs on the way to a Super Bowl MVP quieted down some of his critics, at least for the off-season.
It leads back to a common conundrum of the sports world. Why do fans always beg that athletes be honest and real, then scold them for doing so?
No wonder athletes never speak their mind. What do they have to gain from it? Flacco’s words on the wild cat would ring true for most quarterbacks, but it did not get him anything except for more hostility from the media and the fans. The not-so-average Joe Flacco could have told everyone that it was fine and he had no issues with it in that dull, uninterested voice of his. He could have left the locker room on Tuesday unscathed, but he dared to speak the truth and now he must face the consequences. Like a pack of rabid dogs the media sat there drooling over his comments.
In the end it is unreasonable to blame the media for trying to find interesting stories, but is it really that exciting? An NFL quarterback said he liked when he was behind center instead of his backup. It is not exactly earth-shattering.
Flacco’s honesty is rather refreshing if fans are tired of the same answers from athletes after games. Unfortunately as much as the public may say they want that kind of truth spewing from player’s mouths it is not entirely true. Fans hate it when guys speak their minds, they hate the players who have the audacity to speak their minds. So no one should be surprised when the more than average Joe Flacco decides to make his post-game comments as exhilarating as his hair cut and a check down to Ray Rice for 3 yards.
By James Hadley