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    Ravens Visit White House, Nobody Likes Joe Flacco

    By Amber Lee
    Nothing on earth more perfectly encapsulates the career of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to date than this photo.
    Nothing on earth more perfectly encapsulates the career of Ravens
    quarterback Joe Flacco, to date, than this photo taken at the White House recently.

    The Baltimore Ravens had one heckuva a run to the Super Bowl this year. Even though they finished with a more than respectable 10-6 record, they were anything but favorites going into the playoffs. They were more of an afterthought than anything else.

    Ravens future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis seemed acutely, if not clairvoyantly, aware that nobody was giving his team a chance against the likes of other future Hall of Famers like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady they’d be facing down the road.

    A fact that many speculate led to him officially announcing his retirement on January 2, 2013. The only caveat being that it was effective as of the end of the playoffs. It was literally win or go home forever for Lewis, who played all 17 seasons of his career in Baltimore.

    Speculation abounded about how much impact, if any, the announcement would have on a team that finished the regular season 1-4. Winning the AFC North wasn’t enough to earn them a bye week, but they did draw the Indianapolis Colts, led by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, in the Wildcard round and made short work of them.

    It was the first time in NFL history that a starting quarterback won no less than one playoff game in each of his first five seasons—no small feat for Joe Flacco.

    After which, Ray Lewis was the story.

    The Ravens were rewarded with the opportunity to play the Super Bowl favorite Denver Broncos in their own stadium. The AFC Divisional game was a nail-biter, but the Broncos were clinging to a seven-point lead in the final two minutes of the game. Their grip slipped.

    They chose to play it safe and lean on their defense. Flacco beat them with seconds left in the game on what seemed like his 100th downfield bomb of a touchdown in the game. Despite ending really poorly for the hometown fans in Denver, it was dubbed the Mile High Miracle—one of the greatest postseason games of all time.

    After which, Ray Lewis was the story.

    The Ravens went on the road to face another familiar foe in the New England Patriots, the team that had beat them a year previously in the AFC Championship on a controversial last minute play. They more than made up for that defeat by going into the locker room six points down at half-time and then shutting out the Pats in the second half, winning by 15. Flacco finished the game with eight touchdowns and no interceptions through three games.

    After which, Ray Lewis was the story.

    The Ravens advanced to face the San Francisco 49ers, in what was one of the more riveting championships in recent years. The teams were coached by the brothers Harbaugh in Super Bowl XLVII, which made for a whole lot of really repetitive wordplay.

    Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the second most buzzed about player in the two weeks leading up to the game, behind Lewis of course. Baltimore got off to a fast start and the game looked like it was going to be a blowout until a freak blackout at the Superdome seemed to flip a switch for San Francisco.

    The Ravens nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, but ultimately scraped by in the end. Flacco didn’t throw an interception—putting his playoff touchdown to interception ratio at 11 to 0. He was named Super Bowl MVP.

    After which, Ray Lewis was the story.

    Flacco  went on to become the highest paid player in NFL history when he signed a record breaking contract in March 2013. Reactions were mixed. Tom Van Riper of Forbes asked “Joe Flacco Isn’t A Star. Why Pay Him Like One?” While Tom Krasovic of U~T San Diego said: “Joe Flacco is still underrated.”

    Not that it mattered. Ray Lewis’ was still the story. In fact, Ray Lewis and his defensive company have been the story of Joe Flacco’s career to date—the offensive side of the ball has been disregarded in Baltimore for years, if not treated with outright disdain by their heralded defense. Sure he got paid in the end, but he’s also shouldered much of the blame for the Ravens’ free agent losses in the offseason.

    But at least he got to attend the traditional trip to the White House in June 2013 and be honored by President Barack Obama, right? Well sorta. Flacco did make the trip with the team, but during the address he was relegated to the back riser on the far right and was teased about the convenient timing of his free agency. They probably made him ride in the bathroom of the team bus on the way from Baltimore to D.C.

    Ray Lewis, on the other hand, was prominently featured in the ceremony. He was commended by the President for his leadership of the team—not to mention his famous pre-game dance ritual. And then they hugged. Like hugged hugged.

    Now *that's* a hug.
    Now *that’s* a hug.

    A hug that we can only presume was followed up by the President of the United States of America and future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis giving Joe Flacco an atomic wedgie and stealing his lunch money while everyone else laughed and pointed.

    Such is the life of the NFL’s second highest paid player ever. Flacco held the title for approximately three seconds before the Green Bay Packers settled up with their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, and made him the highest paid player ever.

    Yeah, that sounds just about right.

    [Insert Flacco noise here]