By Edward Lee
5:45 PM EST, January 24, 2013
When the Ravens bid farewell to Ray Lewis after Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, Joe Flacco figures to be one of the key players who will succeed the 13-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker as a leader.
Just don’t expect many histrionics from the fifth-year quarterback. Flacco said as much Thursday when he was asked whether he has worked on becoming more of a vocal leader.
“I haven’t worked on it,” he said. “Don’t know if I agree with it. There are a lot of different ways to lead, and the bottom line is, it’s about motivating our players to get the best out of them and having the belief that you can go do it in any situation. And Ray does a great job of that in his own way, and I don’t know if there’s anybody quite like him in that category. So in an effort to do something along the lines of the way he does it would be a mistake just because I don’t think you’re going to live up to it. You’ve got to do it your own way, and I think naturally as you get more comfortable with people and people understand you more and you become more confident in them and they become more confident in you, you become more vocal as time goes on.”
Flacco’s contention conflicts with Lewis’ perspective. Lewis, who spoke before Flacco did, said he hoped that the quarterback would take the reins and voice his thoughts loudly and frequently.
“There are a lot of guys that can definitely step in that role,” Lewis said. “But I think Joe has a great advantage and head start to really becoming that next true, true leader. He kind of has to come out of his quiet shell a little bit, but outside of that, Joe is definitely a great candidate for it.”
Like it or not, Flacco is the organization’s quarterback of the future – with or without a long-term contract – and he will be expected to fill the vacuum created by Lewis’ departure. But teammates like outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, free safety Ed Reed and running back Ray Rice can and have flexed their vocal muscles.
In a similar vein, Flacco will always be compared to his peers and questioned about his status as a top-level passer. But for now, those questions are meaningless to him.
“I really don’t care,” Flacco said. “There are guys out there that have got to make a living on hating on somebody. If that’s going to be us, if that’s going to be me, then I plan on being around for a while. And if you want to continue to do it, I’ll be here.”