--- Ron Borges of The Boston Herald says that regardless if he is elite or not, Joe Flacco is in a good place.
“Earlier this season Joe Flacco caused a bit of a stir, which is news in itself, when he declared himself an ‘elite quarterback.’ What was he supposed to say, I think I’m average?” Borges wrote. “The debate continues to rage over whether the Baltimore Ravens’ 28-year-old signal-caller is one or the other, even as he sits only days away from leading the Ravens into Super Bowl XVLII in his fifth season under center in the NFL. Is Flacco elite or just a guy who doesn’t often get beat? Perhaps the larger question is: Does it matter? Because whatever he is, he’s not the most important thing at the moment. He’s not on vacation.”
“Controversy surrounds Ray Lewis again, because of course it does. This is how it always is with him, isn’t it? You probably made up your mind about him long ago. Most football fans have,” he wrote. “An all-time great or an all-time outlaw. Charismatic or self-obsessed. A football warrior or a 21st-century drama queen. Either way, Lewis is this Super Bowl’s most dominant personality. Along with the Har-Bowl angle, Lewis is one of two inescapable story lines in our country’s grandest sporting event, which is quite an accomplishment considering he plays a defensive position devalued by the NFL’s tilt toward passing.”
“I'm a sucker for a rejection story, and Patrick Willis has a good 'un,” he wrote. “There is no shortage of rejection stories among Super Bowl players. Some of these guys were born great and never stumbled, but many of them are here because they got shot down somewhere along the line. As Willis said this week, recalling his moment, ‘I was hurt, but more than anything, I was fueled by the hurt.’ The TV cameras will love Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis on Sunday, all face paint and fury from the time he comes dancing wildly out of the tunnel. Willis, a Lewis protege of sorts, will go about his business quietly and methodically. But Willis' fire is as hot as Lewis', and it is stoked by the memory of that moment more than a decade ago.”
“The Railwood Golf Club is bustling these days, thanks to a spell of mild weather, and on weekends you can play 18 holes with a cart for only $25. Justin Smith wanted it this way. He didn't want to gouge the working man who couldn't take a Monday off to hit golf balls. Smith would prefer, though, that you didn't know he's the owner of this golf course nestled in the rolling hills of Central Missouri,” Merrill wrote. “His name is not on the voicemail, or the website, and that seems typical. Smith is 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds, and one of the most important players on the San Francisco 49ers' vaunted defense, but he prefers to remain in the background. When his teammates are getting sacks, it means Smith is doing his job. Smith has a goal. When he's finished with football, he'd like to be able to go to the grocery store without anyone recognizing him.”
“The NFL has a bigger drug problem than Ray Lewis and his deer antler velvet extract,” he wrote. “It’s the game of football itself. The habit is so strong that players will literally risk life and limb for the opportunity to take the field and enjoy all the other trappings the sport brings. Ed Reed is one of those junkies. The Baltimore Ravens all-star safety admitted Tuesday to suffering occasional memory loss from what he believes are a series of concussions. He has played with a painful nerve impingement for ‘the last six or seven years.’ … Like Lewis is doing, Reed should walk away after Super Bowl XLVII before any more damage is done. Reed could enjoy the substantial wealth he has accumulated, spend more time with his family, move on to the next phase of his life and likely join his teammate in five years as a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame selection.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun