Last August, Eli Manning unwittingly spurred a season-long storyline (and an avalanche of second-guessing) when he said that he was an elite quarterback in the same class as Tom Brady. After publicly raising the bar, Manning rose to the challenge, posting the best numbers of his career and leading the Giants to their second Super Bowl win in five years.
Can Joe Flacco follow the same path? Because he's already outdone Manning in one regard, going on the radio and admitting that he thinks he's not only an elite quarterback but the best in the entire league. His comments are below the jump.
On if he believes he's a top-five quarterback, as his agent stated he was earlier this offseason:
"Without a doubt. What do you expect me to say? ... I assume everybody thinks they're a top-five quarterback. I mean, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'm top five, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'd be very successful at my job if I didn't feel that way. I mean, c'mon? That's not really too tough of a question. But that doesn't mean that things are gonna work out that way. It just means that that's the way it is, that's the way I feel it is, and that's the way I feel it should be."
In context, his answer makes sense -- and it's hardly surprising. Professional athletes are usually as confident as they are competitive. But when Eli spoke last summer, he already had a ring and a Super Bowl MVP -- and he simply said he was as good as the best, not that he was in a class by himself. Flacco? Fairly or not, he's as publicly maligned as any starting quarterback in the league.
No matter what he does in 2012, I'm guessing this isn't the last we'll hear of this interview.