“Do you embrace the eye black, smeared down both of his cheeks, occasionally mixed with tears? Does your heart pump faster when he dances, feet sliding, biceps bulging? Do you nod and say, ‘Amen’ when he speaks? Do you have your name in his cellphone? There are hundreds in the NFL who do, my friend -- rookies, Ravens and even the poor soul he just flattened on the 20-yard line. ‘I love you,’ Ray will tell some of them. And they love him, too,” she wrote. “Do you see it in his eyes, his passion? Maybe you roll your eyes because Lewis is doing another news conference in designer sunglasses when it's dark outside. But do you believe? That villains can become heroes? Do you buy into what he's selling? It's simple, really. Either you do or you don't.”
--- John Eisenberg of BaltimoreRavens.com believes that when the Ravens and 49ers look in the mirror, they will see each other.
“Let us count the ways that the Ravens and 49ers are drop-dead identical. Both are coached by guys named Harbaugh, the Ravens’ John and the 49ers’ Jim. They’re brothers. They used to sleep in the same room. They call the same people ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad.’ They still look a lot alike,” Eisenberg wrote. “Both are led on defense by star inside/middle linebackers wearing number 52. The Ravens Ray Lewis is a future Hall of Famer playing in the final game of his career. The 49ers’ Patrick Willis is widely regarded as the next Ray. Both teams are known for hitting hard, limiting turnovers and generating big plays on offense. The similarities between them this season are so unerring it’s actually eerie. Both scored 44 touchdowns during the regular season. Both generated plus-9 turnover ratios. Both had to go on the road and win their conference title games.”
“The big ‘What’s wrong with the 49ers pass rush?’ question that’s been floating around media circles this month hasn’t affected the 49ers one bit. It’s not even an issue,” he wrote. “From the coach to the veteran leader to the sack master gone silent, there’s a real ‘nothing to see here’ attitude surrounding all the recent concern from outside forces. After all, the guy everyone’s concerned about? The one that’s been missing from the box scores? His teammates just named him the squad’s MVP. The 49ers know they’ve got to get to Joe Flacco. They know the sack totals haven’t been there of late. They’re also confident in their abilities as a pass rushing unit.”
--- Scott Cacciola of The New York Times looked back at the one day when Joe Flacco didn't keep a low profile: his wedding day.
“For all his glowing credentials as the quarterback of the Super Bowl-bound Baltimore Ravens, Joe Flacco does not present himself to the public as the most charismatic human being to ever grace a football field, and that is no act. Just ask his father, Steve. ‘Joe is dull,’ Steve Flacco said. … Yet there was one day in the not-so-distant past when Joe Flacco actually cut loose,” he wrote. “It was June 25, 2011, his wedding day, and it lives on in a handful of silly photographs that have become nearly as much a part of Flacco’s public persona as his plutonium-powered throwing arm.”
“Mike Iupati remembers carefree days playing touch rugby and hide-and-seek with his friends in the village of Vaitogi, American Samoa, only to find himself at age 14 living in the garage of a relative in Garden Grove,” he wrote. “He knew little English and even less about football. Eleven years later, Iupati, called ‘a gentle giant’ by center Jonathan Goodwin, is an All-Pro guard for the 49ers. In contrast to his violent, brute-force style of blocking, Iupati has a cultural predisposition toward kindness and humility.”
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