Super Bowl 2013: Players Whose Legacies Will Be Impacted Most on Sunday
History will be made Sunday night in New Orleans, the site of Super Bowl XLVII between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.
But in addition to a new NFL champion being crowned, individual legacies will be shaped, some built up and others chopped down. It's not complicated; the Super Bowl immortalizes its winners, and forever haunts its losers.
Let's take a closer look at a trio of stars whose legacies will be impacted significantly one way or another this weekend.
No player on the field Sunday will be playing for more than Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. A future Hall of Famer, Lewis can join an elite group of superstars who have won not one, but two Super Bowls over the course of their career.
With Lewis set to retire after Sunday's championship clash, Super Bowl XLVII is not only his last chance for a title, but his last chance to play on an NFL field.
Although a loss wouldn't tarnish Lewis' legacy, it will certainly impact how he is remembered years from now. If he can lead Baltimore to a second Super Bowl victory, he will put a definitive stamp on his title as the greatest middle linebacker of all time.
Unlike Ray Lewis, Randy Moss has never won a Super Bowl, meaning that Sunday's game is huge for how he will ultimately be remembered. Moss may consider himself the greatest wide receiver to have ever played the game, but it's safe to say that no one else will if he ends his career without a shiny ring.
The veteran wideout has been more of a role player than a star this season, catching just 51 balls for 434 yards and three touchdowns during the regular season.
But Moss' career accomplishments on the football field certainly can't be overlooked (via ESPN Stats & Info):
Randy Moss: 10 postseason receiving TD are tied for 3rd-most all-time (Jerry Rice 22, John Stallworth 12)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 1, 2013
Still, it doesn't matter how big a role Moss plays so long as the Niners win. If they do he'll instantly become a San Francisco legend regardless. But if San Francisco falls, Moss' absurd comments will come back to haunt him in the future.
The term "elite" is tossed around far too often when it comes to debating Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. It doesn't matter whether Flacco is among the game's top quarterbacks, what matters is whether he can lead his team to a Super Bowl title.
Now, he's one win away from doing just that.
Will you consider Joe Flacco elite if the Ravens win?
Flacco is playing superb football at the perfect time, outplaying Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on the road in Baltimore's last two playoff wins.
There's no arguing that Flacco is the top quarterback in Ravens franchise history with a remarkable 8-4 playoff record (including an NFL record six road wins), but with a Super Bowl win under his belt, the veteran passer would become an NFL legend and successfully secure his status as elite.
A loss, and the Flacco critics will be out in full force. And if he never gets back to this stage again, he'll be remembered as the quarterback who couldn't get it done when it mattered most.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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