Several Ravens arrived at the Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric on Monday night to participate in the premier screening of the DVD that chronicles their Super Bowl winning season.
But instead of celebrating the accomplishment, the Ravens found themselves lamenting the loss of one of their dominant performers from their playoff run.
Veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who burned the San Francisco 49ers for six catches, 104 yards and a touchdown in the Ravens 34-31 victory in Super Bowl XLVII, was traded to the 49ers on Monday for a sixth-round draft pick.
The move, motivated by the team's desire to open open up some room under the salary cap, became a necessity after the 32-year-old balked at a $2 million pay cut late last week. But the cost of the trade was the loss of one of the Ravens’ toughest and most clutch performers.
"Anquan was a great receiver for myself, for our football team, for this whole organization. It’s sad to see a guy like that go but at the same time, you want what’s best for him and you just wish him the best of luck,” said Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco who attended Monday's event with his wife, Dana. "Anquan was a big part of this football team, a big part of this offense, and one of the many reasons why we won the Super Bowl this year. We just got to put some faith in our young guys and hope that they step up to the table and play the way they’re capable of playing.”
Flacco, who credited Boldin for helping him get his long-awaited contract extension, spent some time with Boldin in Arizona over the weekend at former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner’s charity event, but he said the two didn’t talk about Boldin’s contract situation. Last week, Flacco expressed hope that Boldin would return. However, he said Monday he wasn’t “necessarily surprised” with how things worked out.
“You see things like this happen every year in the NFL. It’s just the nature of the business. It almost becomes just one of those things that you got to react to and take in stride,” said Flacco who was asked what the team loses with Boldin gone. “You lose a lot of things. You lose a leader, you lose that fire and most of all and most importantly, you lose a very good player and a guy who has done it over and over again.”
In the postseason, Boldin had 22 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns, elevating his game from the regular season when he caught 65 balls for 921 yards and four touchdowns. But his teammates said that Boldin’s contributions went well beyond the numbers. He brought a toughness to the Ravens’ offense and he was one of the leaders in the locker room.
"We learned a lot of routes from him, how he thinks, what he sees. He passed that on to us and he did what he had to do,” said fellow wide receiver Jacoby Jones. “That’s why it’s a business, man. Those things are going to happen. I wish Q the best. He’s always a Raven with me. We got something that you can never take from us so I wish him the best.”
The trade seemed to hit wide receiver Torrey Smith particularly hard. Smith was mentored by Boldin the past two seasons. When the former Maryland star learned of the trade on Twitter, his first response was “WHAT!!!.” He then tweeted, “This business is BS at times.”
Surrounded by reporters, Smith chose his words more carefully Monday night and initially deflected questions about the trade. But he did eventually expand some and talk about how much he’d miss Boldin, saying of the trade: “It’s definitely shock.”
"You lose a great guy, a great leader, a mentor. You lose all of that,” Smith said. “It’s tough for everyone, not just myself. Obviously, it will probably mean a little more responsibility but I had that last year and the year before that. It’s going to be hard. The biggest thing is not so much about football when you lose someone like that, a mentor, a big brother, somebody you love like a brother and would do anything for you. It’s tough.”