No NFL fan would argue that today’s league is a passer’s league, a quarterback’s league. And with each new Super Bowl winning quarterback, the media quickly anoints that player into the “elite” status.
But the favored quarterback to win this year’s Super Bowl has not even started a full season in the NFL. After starting Quarterback Alex Smith suffered a concussion in November, backup Colin Kaepernick began to play and never lost his job. Super Bowl XLVII will be Kaepernick’s tenth start in the NFL.
On the other side, Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco has been in the league and started every game for five seasons. If Baltimore pulls off the upset, fans will argue Flacco’s status as an elite quarterback.
Elite. What does it mean to be elite? It seems so silly and cliché especially since everyone wants to name every quarterback as elite. It has become the NFL's most over used phrase: elite quarterback.
But who is actually elite? Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Maybe Eli Manning, and if you include him then Ben Roethlisberger. What about Mr. 5,000 Matthew Stafford? And Matt Ryan? Joe Flacco?
Elite still means the best of the best. Quarterbacks can go on amazing runs and win the Super Bowl MVP (Eli Manning) or play well with a great defense (Ben Roethlisberger), that doesn’t mean they belong with the best quarterbacks in the game.
So far in this year’s playoffs, Flacco has thrown eight touchdowns and no interceptions. If Flacco wins the Super Bowl, he will have more playoff wins in his first five seasons than any other quarterback. Plus, a Super Bowl title and who knows maybe an MVP, but he still doesn’t belong in the class of the elite.
That doesn’t mean Flacco is not a great quarterback. He already is, and if he can win against the 49ers, the Ravens will forever lose the label “the team without a quarterback”.
But the Monday after the Super Bowl, the storyline should not be about Joe Flacco’s elite status, but the fact whatever team wins the Super Bowl, they did it with complete team and a leader under center, not an elite quarterback.