Local media members and others share their thoughts on what Joe Flacco has meant to the city of Baltimore and how he’ll be remembered for his time with the Ravens.
Mayor Catherine Pugh (as told to Glenn Clark)
He’s been great for Baltimore. You know he came in as the 18th pick overall, and he was the first rookie quarterback to win two playoff games. That bodes well for Baltimore. He threw 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in his Super Bowl 47 [run]. He took us to the Super Bowl, we can’t ever forget that. The impact of a Super Bowl for Baltimore is great. What did he have, a total of 106 wins? That includes the playoffs. I just think when you think about not just his playing career in Baltimore but his commitment to the city: He provides support to the Special Olympics of Maryland, and he also serves as the spokesperson for the Baltimore Humane Society. Eleven seasons he’s been here, and he’s been a constant with the Ravens. I, for one, am grateful for all that he’s done as a Raven. I think he’s been good for the team, good for the city and he leaves a legacy.
He’s somebody that young people look up to. He always carried himself in a very respectful way, always spoke highly of the city. He was part of the fabric of the city. … He represented us well in the city, and he represented us well as a quarterback playing across this country. I couldn’t be more proud of him. I hope he is as proud of himself as we are having had him for so many years in Baltimore, and an individual who always for us rose to the occasion. Sorry to see him go through the injuries that he had just in his last few years, but when he was on, he was on.
Marty Bass, WJZ-13
A unibrow. A name perfect for “Balmerese.” A “normal Joe” in a city that dislikes prima donna anybodies. Joe Flacco came along when a series of underperforming quarterbacks ruined an otherwise good offense, and made life miserable for a defense now legendary. Joe came to town at the perfect time. And lived up to the opportunity. “Joe Cool” got the job done Charm City style. A Blue Hen with a blue collar. And now he leaves us with the same blue collar and a ring. And a lot of stats. Good ones.
He brought Raven Nation respect and leaves with the respect of us all. We, and he, know it’s just business. My memory will be all the memories. With an exclamation point that looks like a guy in a McDonald’s takeout lane giving some love back to a fan, working the window, in awe. For a time weren’t we all? #wear5withpride
Brian Billick, NFL Network
Former Ravens Head Coach (as told to Glenn Clark)
I think Joe’s a very, very good quarterback. The story’s not done on Joe Flacco. There are any number of teams that would love to have Joe Flacco as their quarterback. We’ll see how it pans out — the proverbial, “He needs to go to the right team,” so to speak. But there’s no question that Joe Flacco has all the skills. He’s a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. I think a lot of people didn’t appreciate just how many coaches Joe Flacco had to go through as coordinators, quarterback coaches. So for him to do what he did over a period of time with that much lack of continuity is something to appreciate. From a local standpoint, Joe’s personality was kind of subdued and “Joe Cool” and laid back, just took it nice and easy. So for some fans, it was hard to jump on board with him because he wasn’t that fiery personality and that type of thing. That’s neither here nor there. Your personality is what it is. The players responded to him. They respect him. The story’s not done with Joe Flacco by a long shot.
Josh Charles, Actor
It’s hard to fully articulate what Joe Flacco has meant to both the Ravens and the city of Baltimore. He gave this organization consistency in a position where we had none for a long time. His humble, low-key approach, toughness, professionalism and all-around class have always been there and were on full display in the way he handled losing his starting job to Lamar Jackson. That’s not fake. That’s who he is.
He had, next to only Joe Montana, one of the greatest playoff runs of any QB in NFL history. Eleven touchdowns and zero interceptions and was deservedly named Super Bowl MVP. I was lucky enough to be there in NOLA and will never forget seeing him get off the bus back at the hotel and congratulating him. He was then as he always seems to be: humble, genuine and kind. Taking it all in stride. That’s Joe.
I understand it’s a business, yet I’m sad to see him go and hope he ends up somewhere that makes him and his family happy. He deserves that. But preferably not in the AFC North or the AFC at all.
Stan “The Fan” Charles, PressBox
Even though the Ravens had already won one Super Bowl in Baltimore, quarterback play was always an ongoing issue even as the defense posted as dominant a run as any in NFL history. With the drafting of Joe Flacco and the perfect storm of injuries to Kyle Boller and Troy Smith, Flacco changed all that.
Sure, he wasn’t perfect, but he was good enough to be a great fit for a city that likes it stars to be soft-spoken and able to put up and shut up at the same time. His Super Bowl run was a once in-a-lifetime postseason gambit, where he delivered when betting the most on his earning power.
Like with the strange dismissal of quarterback Trent Dilfer after winning the team’s first Super Bowl, we’ll never know what could have happened had the Ravens held on to Flacco’s handcuff receiver, Anquan Boldin.
What we do know is for a city that witnessed Johnny Unitas, Earl Morrall and Bert Jones at the position, Joe Flacco delivered consistent performances that seemed to always keep his team in the game. For that, plus the type of person he was in our community, Ravens fans and the city of Baltimore have been truly lucky to have had Joe in our midst.
Glenn Clark, PressBox
In my life, the first time my city ever had a quarterback was when Joe Flacco arrived. Do you understand what I mean? I’m 35, so I spent most of my life without a football team. And while there have been stop-gap options, Flacco was the first time I experienced the “big man on campus” feeling of a quarterback in Baltimore. He dominated our conversations — good and bad — every day for more than a decade.
It might not be hyperbolic to say that Flacco is the only “identity” the franchise has had outside of Ray Lewis. I will forever wonder what Flacco’s story may have been had the franchise done a better job of surrounding him with talent. And we will all be forever appreciative of a truly magical January in 2013.
Jamie Costello, WMAR-2
In the tunnel in Denver, standing next to ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio when he turns to me and says, “Joe has got to step up and make it his moment.” We went out onto the sideline, and two plays later Joe hits Jacoby Jones.
Joe had a hot streak you don’t even see at Maryland Live Casino. It was that run to the Super Bowl that will make him the second greatest number 5 in Baltimore.
Drew Forrester, Drew’s Morning Dish
In one way, what Joe Flacco was able to accomplish in Baltimore was a minor miracle. He took over a position in 2008 that was starving for quality. And he did so in an organization that was well known for its draft-day ineptitude when it came to picking college wide receivers. (Side note: In their history, the Ravens have drafted 26 wide receivers — only one of them has produced a 1,000-yard receiving season).
Oh, and let’s not forget that Flacco also helped shed a label that “small college quarterbacks” couldn’t cut it in the NFL. There were plenty of Baltimore football fans who scoffed at his selection in 2008, particularly when he was announced as hailing from “The University of Delaware.”
When the dust settles, he’ll be remembered most for his magical run in January and February of 2013 — 11 touchdowns, no interceptions — when he helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl. Yes, his last few years in town never quite lived up to the mega contract he signed or that “elite” word everyone likes to throw around. But Joe Flacco was a winner in Baltimore. He has the ring to prove it.
Pete Gilbert, WBAL TV-11
In the divisional round for the 2012 season, the Ravens trailed the Broncos, 35-28, with 2:19 to play. Out of timeouts and the Broncos with a second-and-8 at their own 47, the game should have been over.
I was waiting in the bowels of Mile High with ABC-2’s Jamie Costello pondering the worth of going out on the field for the final two minutes. At that point it was 4 degrees below zero, and the Ravens’ chances of winning seemed below zero as well. It was miserable. But I also knew Joe Flacco still believed he could win, and his belief was a powerful thing. Jamie concurred, and we made a very good decision to button up and bear it. Witnessing the “Mile High Miracle,” 7 yards from where Jacoby Jones caught the pass, is the best thing I’ve seen in my 22-year career.
Flacco has long been panned in Baltimore for failing to “show a fire” on the sideline. But his even-keeled demeanor belied a confidence that never failed. If there was a mathematical chance to win, he thought he could find a way. He told us that with a microphone in his face and when we chatted after interviews. He always believed. I have not known any athlete with the same quiet confidence that was as genuine as Joe’s.
That confidence allowed him to gracefully handle the transfer of power to Lamar Jackson.
He’s not worried. Another opportunity will come and he’ll probably do very well with it. Maybe even author a playoff miracle. And if the possibility presents itself, make sure to bundle up and watch.
David Ginsburg, Associated Press
He was known as Joe Cool, but Joe Flacco was all class. The greatest quarterback in Ravens history, Flacco came up big in the postseason countless times and won a Super Bowl for Baltimore with his flawless performance in the 2012 playoffs — most notably his unforgettable touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones in Denver. Flacco’s contribution to the franchise transcended victories and lofty numbers. He was an integral part of the community in much the same fashion as many of the old Colts. I ran into him at a local sandwich shop one day, and he gladly signed autographs and posed for pictures with virtually everyone in the store. (I didn’t ask, but my wife still has that selfie.) Joe was great with the media, too. He could have groused about losing his job to injury, yet handled the turn of events with grace and dignity. I’ll miss him.
Reeta Hubbard, PressBox
I’m forever grateful for Joseph Vincent Flacco. From the day he became a starter in 2008, he made the Ravens an automatic playoff team. The 2008-2012 seasons were the most exciting times to be a Ravens fan. From the 2008 Titans divisional game, I knew he would bring the Ravens a Super Bowl. And on Feb. 3, 2013, he did just that, ending that postseason in historic fashion. My only regret is that the organization did not do enough to continue to make him great after the Super Bowl run. He truly deserved better. The best QB in Ravens history, I’ll miss Flacco greatly. I wish him much success and good health in his next endeavor.
Qadry Ismail, WJZ-13
Former Ravens Radio Color Analyst (as told to Glenn Clark)
I think for the city, a guy who was as blue-collar as it got and was as reliable and dependable of a player and came in and at the right time, was able to be the quarterback that kind of … you look at the era of Brian Billick and era even of Ted Marchibroda, there really wasn’t a true, “Boom, this is the signal caller.” You’re always trying to find a person, and you look at the teams that have had successes over the years, whether it be the Colts, whether it be the Patriots, the Saints, the Pittsburgh Steelers, they had that one common factor. It’s that they had that consistent play at quarterback. And I think for the John Harbaugh era, yes, he had some Hall of Fame players that he had a chance to coach, but he also had a quarterback that was able to put him in a position and put this team in a position to compete year in and year out for championships.
Luke Jackson, PressBox
Before the 2008 season, I was at a training camp practice at McDaniel College with my father. Practice had just ended. Some players went inside; others went to sign autographs for fans. Joe Flacco, then a rookie, was one who decided to sign a few footballs and jerseys for kids after practice.
As Flacco was signing autographs, Ray Lewis began to do the same not too far from where Flacco stood. As if on cue, some of the kids who were huddled around Flacco scurried over to Lewis, and it was hard to blame them. Flacco wasn’t long for the shadows, however. He dominated the airwaves for 11 years. He shined brightest in the biggest games. He was a rock-solid human being to represent the franchise.
Had those kids known what Flacco would soon mean to their favorite football team, I’m sure a few would’ve stuck around to say they rubbed elbows with the Super Bowl XLVII MVP back when he was just a draft pick out of Delaware.
Jarret Johnson, 98 Rock
Flacco’s Teammate From 2008-2011 (as told to Glenn Clark)
He was a first-round pick, came in with a lot of high hopes, certainly lived up to it. He’s kind of a testament to just perseverance. He’s been on the mountaintop. He went to the playoffs, what, his first five or six years of his career? Won a Super Bowl. And then the injuries and the countless different coordinators and different quarterback coaches, and through it all Joe was always the same. Always showed up, played  games in a row and always gave the city his best. It’s a testament to just perseverance and just grinding through a very tough career.
Todd Karpovich, PressBox / Russell Street Report
Joe Flacco transformed the Ravens into a perennial contender when he was drafted in 2008. He brought stability to the quarterback position and led the team to the playoffs in six of his first seven seasons. His game-tying, 70-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jacoby Jones, known as the “Mile High Miracle,” is regarded as one of the greatest moments in the history of Baltimore sports. Flacco then led the Ravens to a victory in Super Bowl XLVII and was also named MVP of the game. Flacco humbly went about his business and accepted his demotion this past season with his usual class. He will eventually be immortalized in the Ravens Ring of Honor, firmly entrenching his position as a Baltimore sports icon.
Paul Mittermeier, WBAL Radio
Joe Flacco was the ultimate professional from the time he stepped onto the field in Baltimore to his very last game as a Raven. Joe was the answer for a franchise that had struggled for so long to have a quarterback that they could call their own. He turned the Ravens into a consistent winning franchise with five straight playoff appearances (2008-2012) and a Super Bowl MVP performance in 2012.
His run through the 2012 playoffs was a masterpiece highlighted by the “Mile High Miracle.” When I think of one word that best describes him, it would be unfazed. Nothing ever bothered him, and he played at such an even keel. His ability to never get too high or too low was a key to his success. Flacco missed out on two other opportunities to win Super Bowls: one in 2011, when his game-winning touchdown pass went through the hands of Lee Evans, and in 2014, his best year, when the Ravens were just a couple healthy cornerbacks short of upsetting the Patriots again in Foxborough.
He will always be remembered by me as one of the best quarterbacks to play here in Baltimore. He was not only a good quarterback but he was a good teammate. In his worst time this year having to watch for the first time in his NFL career as a backup, he showed why he is one of the all-time great teammates. I will always respect his attitude of putting the team first and only caring about what it took to win. That’s all he ever cared about.
Jason La Canfora, CBS Sports
He is a Ravens legend who was generally at his best when it matters most. He will be mentioned forever around here with Johnny U and Bert Jones as the best to ever play the position in Baltimore. His 2012 postseason was Montana-esque, and his unflappable nature, deadpan sense of humor and overall personality will be remembered more fondly over time. I always enjoyed my interactions with him, and he is a total pro.
Bill Ordine, PressBox
About the only way to remain competitive in the NFL for an extended period of time, say a decade or more, is to have what is commonly referred to as a franchise quarterback. That’s what Joe Flacco, as a true franchise quarterback, did for Baltimore. From his rookie season in 2008, Flacco kept the Ravens competitive with just one losing season in 11 years. Even in seasons when the Ravens failed to make the playoffs (and they went to the postseason six times with Flacco as the starting quarterback), they were almost always playing meaningful games in December. Fans can’t ask for much more. And that Flacco did it with a quiet dignity that brought credit to the franchise and the city was just as significant. While fans are optimistic about their new starting signal caller, the exciting Lamar Jackson, Baltimore will be fortunate indeed if Jackson can match the example set by the team’s first franchise quarterback.
T.J. Smith, Baltimore County Press Secretary
Former Baltimore Police Spokesperson
Joe Flacco represents more than football in Baltimore. I had the chance to meet him in the spring of 2018 when he came to the Baltimore police headquarters to listen and find out how he could engage to assist in police and community relations. Joe reminded me of the guy on the field. He was quiet, yet methodical. And when he spoke, we listened and he made a lot of sense. His tenure as a Raven was about stability through tough times, but also winning, and is symbolic of the city he played in. He stood tall in the face of criticism, engaged with the community and won. If we, as a city, can take anything from Joe’s tenure it would be this — you don’t have to be the loudest or most animated person in the room. You have to be consistent and methodical. Eleven years in the NFL is not normal. Eleven years with the same team is nearly unheard of. Thank you, Joe. Your impact is much bigger than the sport.
Bo Smolka, PressBox
Fans often viewed Joe Flacco’s calm demeanor as a lack of passion, but don’t be fooled: He was highly competitive and did some of his best work in the most difficult arenas. He thrived at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and didn’t blink in the cauldron of Foxborough in the AFC championship game. (Remember, the Ravens should have won two straight AFC title games there.)
Flacco always carried himself with class, even when operating with a revolving door of offensive coordinators and when presented with a patchwork group of underwhelming receivers year after year. As his time in Baltimore wound down, he handled the succession to Lamar Jackson with predictable grace.
The debate about the elite-ness of Flacco has raged for years and will never go away. But neither will the ‘Mile High Miracle’ and a playoff run for the ages, which anchors him in this city forever.
Mark Viviano, WJZ
Whether he was “elite” or not, for Baltimore Joe Flacco was a savior. For the first 12 years of the Ravens’ existence, the team was Ray Lewis, defense and a revolving door of quarterbacks. Drafting Kyle Boller in the first round in 2003 was supposed to deliver the franchise QB to end the frustration over that position. Boller only made it worse.
They finally got it right with Flacco, and it paid off immediately. The Ravens won more playoff games Flacco’s rookie season than the previous seven years combined. Not only did Flacco win, he was “Joe Cool” — quiet, workmanlike, no frills. Baltimore fans could relate, and they’d waited for just this kind of QB. (It didn’t hurt that his New Jersey accent sounded a little like Baltimore, too.) Flacco’s performance in the 2012 playoffs is forever part of Baltimore legend. Flacco peaked in 2014, then the love for him waned. He leaves an overall legacy that Baltimore, in time, will hold up as “elite.”
Evan Washburn, CBS Sports
Former Comcast SportsNet Ravens Reporter (as told to Glenn Clark)
I think that he gave this city, this football city a chance to have a guy — and by a guy, I mean a legitimately, you can use the word star. I mean, you made elite famous. But I would say in moments, a star and relevant quarterback for the first time really in their organization’s history as I understand it. I mean, you’ve got Vinny [Testaverde] on the back end there, sort of. Maybe I was too young to understand that one. And then Trent [Dilfer] we know kind of managed that group. And then the [Elvis] Grbac debacle. It was the first time I felt — and this was when I was still sort of a fan — that this city and this football fan base got a guy that they could go, when they go out and see their family in Kansas at a reunion and be like, “Yeah, Joe Flacco’s our quarterback.” I thought a lot of the time that was something that could hold up. Now, what frustrated fans is that they could go to that same reunion two months later or the next year and they’d get belittled for it because Joe would have one of his stretches. So I don’t know. Hopefully that makes sense. He kind of checked a box that this city and this organization needed in the sense that, “Yeah, we’ve got a quarterback that other teams think is good.”
Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle
Former Baltimore Sun Ravens Beat Reporter
Soon-to-be former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco left a rich legacy in Baltimore. Flacco won a Super Bowl behind a historic playoff run of accurate throws and reliance on a proven target, his friend, tight end Dennis Pitta. On the field, Flacco had a stoic personality and a ton of poise. The New Jersey native also had a dry sense of humor and easy-going personality that served him well in the community, locker room and huddle. Flacco relied on his arm strength, solid mobility and classic throwing motion. He had a bad tendency to throw off his back foot at times when his fundamentals lapsed. I believe it was simply time for Flacco and the Ravens to part ways and make room for a different style of quarterback in Lamar Jackson. Flacco can still have a positive second act and a fresh start as a starter in another NFL city. Flacco will leave Baltimore with his pride and body intact. Not every NFL quarterback gets to say that.
Glenn Younes, PressBox
Joe Flacco meant many things to Baltimore and the Ravens; at the very least, he meant a more than serviceable QB to give the defense something to play off of. He was a stable force on the other side of the ball. He also gave the fans something to debate about; Joe was good but not great, though he showed flashes … perfect for a good ole hometown QB controversy. Most would have wanted him to be more vocal, study harder, stay longer after practice, but that’s not Joe. Joe was just the steady, big-armed QB who the eccentric, exciting, veteran, defensive-led Ravens needed in their Super Bowl run. I’ll remember Joe for his near flawless postseason. I think the fan will wish he had 10 percent more want-to and what that could have been.
Ken Zalis, PressBox
Let’s start here:
- Joe Flacco is the best quarterback the Ravens franchise has ever had.
- He will be in the Ring of Honor someday and should be.
- His 2012 Super Bowl/playoff run was historic.
Joe Flacco has become a truly polarizing figure. Some fans want to only remember either the first half of his tenure or the last half, thus picking sides. I want to remember all of Joe, as the rookie quarterback who wasn’t supposed to start his first year but was forced into the role due to injuries and sickness of the other quarterback on the roster. If you only focus on stats, Flacco wasn’t great. We can all argue forever whose fault that was, but as they say, stats are stats: a career 61.7 percent completion percentage (56.6 percent in the playoffs), 212 TD passes (never more than 27 in a season) and 136 interceptions. But the Ravens won with Joe as their quarterback. From 2008-2014, the Ravens were 72-40 and went to the playoffs every season but 2013. They won a Super Bowl in February 2013 and had a 10-5 record in the postseason. Admit it or not, that is a HOF start to a career.
Then there is the next chapter from 2015-2018, when the Ravens were 24-27 with Flacco as their starting quarterback. He was hurt for much of that time and lost his job due to another injury this past season.
Did the Ravens do wrong by Joe Flacco, with never really getting him talent at wide receiver? There is a lot to ponder, but in the end, Joe Flacco was the best quarterback in the history of the Ravens, and he should be remembered as such. January Joe was real! He did his best work late in the season, late in games and in the playoffs. A drop here, a missed kick there and maybe I am not writing a goodbye letter?
As much as I think it is the right time for Joe to move on, I will remember him fondly as a class act and as the best the Ravens ever had.
Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic
Former Baltimore Sun Ravens Beat Reporter
Joe Flacco’s time with the Ravens will be defined by what he leaves behind. The shiny Lombardi Trophy that is displayed at the entrance to the team’s Under Armour Performance Center represents the peak of the winningest era in Ravens history. Flacco was a central performer in that era.
The quarterback shouldn’t be remembered only by one game — or in the case of the team’s Super Bowl run in 2012-13 — a series of them. His greatest contribution was the stability he brought to a position that the Ravens couldn’t get right. He was tough, accountable and unflappable. He had his flaws as a quarterback, but Flacco possessed the one quality you need from your leader: he rose to the occasion in big games.
Flacco wasn’t for everybody and to his credit, he never tried to be. But he was perfect for the Ravens and the city he played in for over a decade.
Issue 251: February 2019