While Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has won some people with his play the past two weeks, Joe Namath's mind had long been made up. He didn't need to see Flacco out-shine Indianapolis Colts phenom Andrew Luck and outplay Denver Broncos future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning to conclude that Flacco is one of the league's better quarterbacks.
In a phone interview with The Baltimore Sun this week, Namath said that he has a been of fan of Flacco's ever since he first saw him play with the Ravens and he doesn't believe "you can give Flacco too much
"A lot of that respect comes from knowing how tough the position can be at times, what kind of valleys we can get into mentally, emotionally. We make errors and you know as a quarterback, when you make an error, a bad decision, it has a major impact on the game most of the time. When you lose games because you feel like it's your fault, it takes a tough guy to be able to live with that and then come back and rise to the occasion," Namath said. "I'm a fan of Joe because I know this has not all been good for him. He's had the tough times yet he's steely, he's in command. I know he's a tough guy and I've never met him. I can tell by watching him work. He's also physically tough."
Namath downplayed Flacco getting the best of Luck and Manning, and his individual matchup tomorrow with the New England Patriots' Tom Brady in the AFC championship game because he feels that the
quarterback's 7-4 playoff record and leading the Ravens to the postseason every year he's been in the NFL should speak for itself.
"The fact of the matter is Joe Namath never played Johnny Unitas. Joe Flacco didn't play Peyton Manning. As corny as it still sounds, it's a team game," Namath said. "You look at that challenge. You look at the other side and see that defense and you also know that whether it's Johnny U, Joe Montana, Roger Staubach, we look at quarterbacks. We know who is playing for the other side and you're darn right we'd like to play better than them. But more importantly, it's the win that matters. You take that win, you go about getting that win any way that fits. It's about Flacco and his team. I know Joe from seeing him play over the years [and] he's been through every darn situation that you can imagine except, I guess, the Super Bowl."
Yet there are still some Ravens' fans who haven't embraced the idea that Flacco is the team's franchise quarterback. Namath said that comes with the territory.
"That old saying that the quarterback gets too much credit when they win or too much blame when they lose, there's something to be said about that," he said. "That can happen on occasion. Last week [in Denver], I don't think you can give Flacco too much credit. He deserves all the kudos you can get, man."