Column: Put a ring on it
Published: Monday, February 4, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08
I have to apologize in advance if my bias comes out strong in this column, but few things have made me cringe in the past few years like hearing the word “elite” and arguing about it’s touchy meanings and implications.
When you get literal, the dictionary defines the elite as “a group of people considered to be the best in a particular society or category, esp. because of their power, talent, or wealth.” But when it comes down to applying it to sports, football and especially quarterbacks, there doesn’t seem to be two people who can agree on who belongs where.
At this point in time, there are really only three names that explicitly belong in the top class: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers.
When you examine the next tier, that’s when names like Eli, Ryan, Brees and Roethlisberger come to mind, spewing debates over whether or not any of those names belong with the earlier three in terms of wins, performance and the clutch factor.
Then there is the 28-year-old gunslinger out of the University of Delaware who threw three touchdowns and won a Super Bowl Sunday night. He threw for 11 scores over the course of the playoffs without a single interception en route to winning a championship.
All these things still considered, Joseph Vincent Flacco is not an elite NFL quarterback. And this is where my bias comes in.
Let’s look at the quarterbacks currently in the league that have won a Super Bowl. You have the Manning’s, Brady, Brees, Roethlisberger, Rodgers, and now Flacco. Even though Flacco beat four of these seven quarterbacks, I do understand that bad quarterbacks have won Super Bowls and great quarterbacks have never won any.
It is true that you can’t compare the Trent Dilfer’s and Brad Johnson’s of the world to the Dan Marino’s and Warren Moon’s. But at the same time, who’s to say that the Dilfer’s and the Brad Johnson’s didn’t do what the elites did in leading, or at the very least managing, their teams to a championship?
For me, it’s about rings. No matter how naïve that may make me as an analyst or fan, it is beyond me why the argument needs to be more complicated than that. Winning is why George Bush will go down in history longer than Al Gore, why George Washington will always be remembered over Charles Cornwallis, and why Joe Flacco is an elite NFL quarterback and Colin Kaepernick still has a ways to go.
I get that it’s nothing is that one-dimensional, and I get that there are lot of people with Super Bowl rings that are nothing even note-worthy. But a win is a win, and it’s a lot harder to win a Super Bowl even as a “bad” quarterback than any of us can even realize.
He put a ring on it, he’s an elite. From me personally, welcome to the top tier, Joe Flacco.