Throughout the realm of football media, an inordinate amount of time is spent discussing whether a quarterback has reached “elite” status. The current talking point is Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
The fifth-year signal-caller has certainly showed up this postseason tossing eight touchdowns and no interceptions. Also notable (for some) is Flacco leading his squad to victory over the likes over Tom Brady and Peyton Manning (because the contrived battle between players who won’t be on the field at the same time matters).
So you can probably tell right away where I stand on the matter. Is Joe Flacco elite? No. One good postseason doesn’t make you an “elite” quarterback. The regular season consistency need to improve before we have an serious discussion in that regard.
But a Ravens win on Sunday night would be the first step toward achieving elite status.
Think about all of the current NFL quarterbacks you would even think of putting in the “elite” category. For me, there are six: Brady, Manning, Brees, and Aaron Rodgers are definites. If you want to put a healthy Ben Roethlisberger or Eli Manning in there, I won’t argue.
The fact that all six of them have won a Super Bowl is no coincidence. Other quarterbacks (namely Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers) have the numbers to garner elite consideration, but they lack the postseason success to actually earn the title.
Super Bowl rings matter for quarterbacks, whether we realize it or not.
Of the 26 quarterbacks currently in the Hall of Fame, 17 of them played during the Super Bowl era. Of those 17, 11 have helped lead their team to at least one Super Bowl ring. And those 11 have accounted for half of the 46 Super Bowl titles thus far.
While some quarterbacks are Canton-bound with or without a Super Bowl (guys like Dan Marino or Warren Moon never had much to worry about), others are in or out solely on the fact that they’ve earned a ring.
As Chris Stuart, the owner of FootballPerspective.com, so eloquently stated in an article a few days ago:
“Ken Anderson would be a shoe-in for the Hall with a Super Bowl ring, and my guess is Boomer Esiason and Daryle Lamonica (their numbers are better than you think) would have had excellent chances had their teams won Super Bowls XXIII and II, respectively. Among non-eligible players, Kurt Warner would stand on shakier ground had the Rams lost to the Titans, while Donovan McNabb would be in much better shape had he managed to win a Super Bowl.”
He also went on to mention Roethlisberger and Manning as players whose Super Bowl ring “is a big bullet on the resume”. Joe Flacco could put himself into similar territory with a win. Big Ben and Eli are guys who’ve put up above average numbers, never made an All-Pro team, but still have two Super Bowl rings.
I should probably at least mention Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick, since I’ve yet to do so. Simply put, it’s too early to make any judgments. He’s in his second year and is making his tenth start today. I refuse to even mention a player’s Hall of Fame credentials until after at least their fifth full season.
So for most quarterbacks, Super Bowl rings make or break a career. When you look back at the careers of players like Kurt Warner and Donovan McNabb, the only real separation is the fact that Warner won a Super Bowl and McNabb didn’t. With Joe Flacco being 27 and Colin Kaepernick only 25, the effect of Sunday’s game on their legacy won’t be known for some time.
But win or lose, the result will mean a great deal.