It’s been said a thousand times since Ray Lewis announced his retirement: Joe Flacco is the Baltimore Ravens‘ new leader.
He has shown it in multiple ways. From becoming more vocal on and off the field, to leading his team to a Super Bowl victory, thwarting three of the NFL‘s best teams in the process. The gargantuan contract he signed on the heels of earning his first Lombardi Trophy wasn’t a panicked attempt by Ozzie Newsome to keep a strong-armed, postseason wizard in Baltimore. It was a reward for coming through for a franchise that had faith in him from the very beginning. It was also a sign of faith that Flacco would step up and become the Ravens’ next general.
Flacco made another huge step forward as his team’s undisputed leader with his outspoken remarks on PEDs. Soon after second-year cornerback Asa Jackson was suspended for eight games for his second violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy, Flacco publicly stated his displeasure and frustration with PED abuse. Instead of railing against individual players, however, he made it clear that his opinion on the subject related to his teammates’ safety, as well as the integrity of the game.
While decrying a seemingly common-sense rule may not seem all that admirable, it’s worth noting that Flacco is one of the few NFL players who has done it. Stepping forward and publicly expressing his feelings on the matter not only makes up for the embarrassment of having a teammate suspended for PED use, but it sends a very clear message to the rest of his team: your leader will not tolerate stupid mistakes that hurt the team and its image.