“Pay the man! Pay him!”
There I was, dreaming again that I was Matt Damon in Rounders and that Teddy KGB was yelling to pay me my money. I’ve seen this film a dozen times, so I know the hand he’s holding: flopped the nut straight, the best hand he could have.
But then, I realized I wasn’t dreaming, just watching the Ravens’ post-game interviews. It wasn’t John Malkovich yelling, and I wasn’t getting any money.
“Pay the man! Hear that Steve?” That was the exclamation from Head Coach John Harbaugh to Baltimore Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti. Accompanied by a giggle, they all played it off as a joke, but beneath the laughter was a very sincere plea: please, please pay the man!
Of course, he was referring to his star QB Joe Flacco.
So while Harbaugh urges the owners to lock Flacco into a new, presumably lucrative contract, he can only hope that they know the hand that he is holding: a relatively under-the-radar, self-confident and consistent QB, which—in addition to a notoriously strong defense—is the metaphorical nut straight, the best hand he could have.
Flacco said months ago that he was the best quarterback in the league.
After his home opener on Monday Night Football—a 44-13 clinic over the Bengals—I wonder how long it will be until the majority of us will open our minds to the mere possibility (cue the “I-told-you-so” from some crafty fantasy owners).
He went 21-29 for 299 yards and earned his 50th career victory (including playoffs), which is the best for starting quarterbacks since he joined the league in 2008. He’s also the only QB in NFL history to start and win a playoff game in each of his first four seasons.
Last year, he was virtually one play away from leading his team to a Superbowl for the first time since they beat the Giants in the 2000-2001 season.
While I’m still not willing to say outright that he’s the best in the game, his performances have more than warranted a deal worth putting pen to paper—and the owners would be wise to act quickly.
Otherwise, with every good performance–and I would expect there will be many more from the Ravens on both sides of the ball in the upcoming 15 weeks–Flacco’s price tag will only go up, especially with a big away win at Philadelphia this weekend.
In Rounders, Matt Damon’s character finds that "you can’t lose what you don’t put in the middle...but you can’t win much either”.
Word to the wise in Baltimore: if you want to win, push it all in for Flacco. You may not win the World Series of Poker (I like to think that Matt Damon did in the end), but you could very well find yourself with a Superbowl ring or two before all is said and done.