One of the most entertaining subplots going into the NFL season is finding out just how uninteresting Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco can be. (He's had a strong offseason. His own dad called him "dull," and he plans to stare at the money from his new contract.) This dude is boring. If you cut Flacco's arm, he'd bleed tapioca pudding.
Kevin Van Valkenburg tried to make Flacco more compelling in his piece for ESPN The Magazine. He really did. But the man's lukewarm personality shone through. Here's Flacco on The Haterz:
"You think I'm boring? I think that's cool," Flacco says. "I don't know if I'm an everyday person, but I don't think I'm an a—hole. If you think I'm boring, I don't see why it's a negative thing. All I've ever wanted was to be respected within the building."
Later, he confronts the straw men who think the Super Bowl champions are dicks for acting like they're a good football team:
"I can't really complain," Flacco says. "We won last year, I'm going to get a lot of money, and we're going to win football games. That's the way it works around here. We're not going to apologize for acting like a good football team. We don't care if that comes with pressure or not."
Don't hold back, man. Tell them how you really feel.
Being about as bland as plain oatmeal is not a critical flaw. Is it fun to rag on him for it? Of course. But there's no way to change a person's inherent personality, and no one will care that Flacco is basically 30 gallons of dishwater as long he doesn't produce stat lines like these anymore.
It was never necessary for Flacco to have an enthralling or charismatic demeanor to lead his team; preacher-cum-linebacker Ray Lewis and professional yeller Terrell Suggs were excellent at firing the team up before games or at crucial moments. Flacco's job was "merely" overseeing the offense. With Lewis gone, Suggs is now the top voice of the Ravens. Van Valkenburg may want to project a leadership role onto Flacco—partially due to his fat new contract—but it's just not happening.
Flacco's colorlessness is almost refreshing, because the cliched and the melodramatic have become the norm. His responses are different than those of the guys who mutter "we just made enough plays" after games; he outright rejects some of the bullshit inspirational narratives fit for NFL Films. In a league with so many big personalities, Flacco is the rare straight man, the desperately needed context. Look at how he simultaneously cringes at the prospect of giving a locker room pep talk and reminds us that Ray Lewis is a borderline lunatic:
"That's not me," Flacco says. "I love Ray, and I love how he always spoke from the heart, but if you listened to those speeches, a lot of them didn't even make sense. He meant everything he was saying, but I didn't know what he was talking about 90 percent of the time."
Flacco's the counterweight, the reminder that inspirational players always come with a dash of crazy. His dull aura won't score points, but the cannon on his shoulder will; after Flacco's astounding playoff run last season, it's increasingly difficult to call him anything but excellent. Why twist him into anything else?
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