2010 NFL Season: John Clayton’s Quest for Integrity

ESPN reporter John Clayton is routinely lambasted on his “blog” for ESPN.com because he makes outlandish and often ridiculous statements.  Perhaps no single statement has garnered as much ridicule as his singular proclamation that Baltimore Ravens starter Joe Flacco is “an elite quarterback.”

Clayton has been stuck on stupid for some time now.  He affirmed Flacco’s future greatness years ago.  He was sure the evidence would come.  Clayton even went so far as to suggest that we were seeing was merely a mirage.  Flacco’s 4-10, 34 yards, 1 INT nightmare vs. the New England Patriots was not really a disaster!  It was a sign of greatness because he was a young QB winning playoff games on the road.  Clayton’s statements read as if Ray Lewis and Ray Rice had suddenly changed uniforms; as if Flacco’s 4 measly completions actually impressed someone in Foxboro other than his own mother and John Clayton.

Clayton, a former beat writer for the Pittsburgh Steelers, even went so far as to ignore the pitiable performance Flacco offered up in the 2008 AFC Championship game.  He served up another fitful apologia after the Colts put Joe to bed without any dinner in 2009.  In 2010, it’s been CRICKETS.Yesterday, John Clayton led off his “Last Call” (presumably all the booze had been consumed) with an assessment of the Bengals – Ravens game.   The Bengals own the Ravens.  There was absolutely no mention of one Joe Flacco.  At the beginning of the season, John Clayton was willing to stretch the very definition of the word elite to include 14 starters in a league with 32 teams.  Yesterday, as the Baltimore Ravens struggled to move the ball and Flacco went 17-39, for 154 yards, with one touchdown and four interceptions, John Clayton couldn’t even bear to mention his name.  Nor did John Clayton see fit to mention the arsenal that GM Ozzie Newsome has put at Joe Flacco’s fingertips.  No mention of Anquan Boldin or Derek Mason or T.J. Houshmandzadeh or Ray Rice or Todd Heap.

Last year, I asked the question.  Is Joe Flacco the worst post-season QB of all time? If things continue as they are going, we may never get any additional evidence to test this hypothesis.  Joe Flacco is no more of an elite quarterback than John Clayton is a journalist.  Clayton is an old man who has been seduced by size, arm strength, and style.

Perhaps John Clayton has reached an age where he cannot wake up.  It is time, however, that his editors tap the snooze button.  Someone should inform him that in a league with 32 passers, his beloved Joey Flax is ranked DEAD LAST with a passer rating of 41.2.


John Clayton isn’t the only one with a bad case of the Flaccos.  Rich Gannon caught the bug on Sunday as well.

CBS Sports analyst Rich Gannon spent most of Sunday’s game between the Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals denying the reality right before his eyes of what a wretched game Joe Flacco was playing.

Maybe it was because they were both one-time University of Delaware quarterbacks. What’s the odds of that in the NFL? But whatever the reason, it was a case study of an analyst going into a game with a point of view, and refusing to reconsider it or give it up altogether even though events on the field were contradicting it left and right.

Gannon came into the telecast singing the praises of Flacco, and the more the third-year quarterback sputtered in the first half, the more the CBS analyst looked the other way or blamed others. It was both annoying and fascinating to watch.

On one play in the first half, the Ravens tried to go vertical with receivers going straight down the field on both sides. Flacco was looking to his left all the way, and the multiple receivers on that side were covered.

“He’s just got nowhere to go,” Gannon said like he knew what he was talking about.

But as he got to the word “nowhere,” the producer was running a replay onscreen that showed a Ravens receiver all alone and wide open on the right side of the field.

That’s what it took to get Gannon to finally acknowledge, “They just don’t look comfortable out there.”

He kept saying “they,” presumably referring to the Ravens offense, when he should have been calling out Flacco — loud and clear — as the biggest problems with the Ravens offense.

And Gannon was willing to blame anyone but Flacco.

“If I’m Cam Cameron [offensive coordinator], I’ve got to find a way to get my young quarterback going,” Gannon said later in the first half.

How about your young quarterback, who is now in his third year, finds a way on his own instead of walking around with that droopy look he gets in his eyes on days when he throws a lot of interceptions.

I don’t think Cameron was throwing those interceptions.


  1. Clayton and Gannon aren’t the only ones who are wacko for Flacco. None other than Ron “Jaws” Jaworski is also a big fan of Flacco.

    I have no idea why the others are fans of Flacco, but I notice a pattern with Jaws. He seems to love the “prototypical” QB’s. The tall ones with the accurate cannon arms, who are going to “win the game with their arms, not their legs.” Jaws also had a man crush on Kyle Boller and has one on Carson Palmer.

    Read that article on Joe Flacco being the worst all time post season QB. I remember last season they blamed his 4-10 performance against the Patriots on his arm being hurt.

    Here’s what I look at about Flacco in the post season, 57-120, 660 yds, 1 TD, 6 INT, in 5 career games. That’s a 47.5% completion percentage, for 132 yds/game, 1 TD for every 5 games played, and over 1 INT per career post season start. THAT is not a winning formula in anyone’s book.

    If Vince Young or Michael Vick were to put up those kind of stats for ONE post-season and still win, and they’d be saying that the team needs to draft another QB.

  2. Good stuff and I totally agree. It wasn’t Cam Cameron throwing those interceptions on Sunday. It was Joe Flacco(“Fluke-o”?). 🙂

  3. Troy Smith got the biz, too. There was no reason why he didn’t start over Flacco. Bulger shouldn’t start over Troy…

  4. No doubt. I’m not sure why he didn’t make the Ravens. He may have regressed some or perhaps the Ravens were simply really sold on Flacco based on last season. The hard part for me is seeing that Flacco looks a great deal like Jason Campbell (last season, anyway), but Campbell has been deemed a wash out in Washington and Oakland, while Flacco is considered to be something else altogether.

    To top it off, Campbell has played for more coordinators than Flacco. Cam Cameron has been in Baltimore for some time. The Ravens have a better line and running game than the Redskins had last year or the Raiders have this year. They also have a better defense and receiving corps. So, it stands to reason that expects for Flacco would be higher and that if he failed to meet those expectations, the critique would be significant. After all, Campbell looks the part every bit as much as Flacco — and he was 13-0 at Auburn.

    I know what’s at the bottom of it all, but it’s just one of those things that needs to be exposed for what it is at every turn.

  5. Yeah, but it’s crazy exhausting—and just plain crazy, too. I saw Troy in pre-season put in work and do well, as I’ve typically seen him. I can’t imagine him doing worse than Flacco, period, but he’s simply not getting the chance, which remains stunning. I think the frail self-esteem of white america, which under-girds their racial superiority complex, in certain places (like Philly) simply cannot take the Quarterback position being manned by Black leadership… I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on regarding this “Kolb Betrayal” at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Post, USATODAY, etc., and the biggest thing that is most glaring and striking is that Vick has always been better than Kolb, outperformed Kolb during preseason (according to all that I’ve read) and, still, actually has a nationwide following, yet Kolb and even some of his teammates seem to be in complete and utter denial that he simply is not better than Vick, which is amazing to me. Heck, at least Andy Reid has been the only one to truly put it in perspective by saying, and I’m paraphrasing here, that there simply is no shame in Kolb being beaten out of the starting position by a former superstar, someone who not only was the highest paid player, but the face of the league, who has simply not only regained his physical form, but who has actually developed into a phenomenal pocket passer. Only white privilege could prevent Kolb from acknowledging Vick’s all-around superior play. Reading so many jackasses amongst the Philly faithful who characterize it as a betrayal smacks of the denial and a flat-out, out-and-out refusal to acknowledge Vick’s enhanced or maturing abilities.

  6. LOL…..I just love your comments to Clayton 🙂

    “Temple3 (10/5/2010 at 11:21 AM) Report Violation Flacco is soooooo elite that the Ravens gave the GAME BALL to Cam Cameron. Anytime Clayton’s ready to loosen his vice grip on Joe’s Family Jewels would be just fine with his girlfriend.”

    “Temple3 (10/5/2010 at 11:18 AM) Report Violation Clayton — you crack head junkie — Flacco’s not elite. He’s no more elite after this game than he was after his 4 INT debacle vs. Cincinnati. Pathetic. Clayton wrote about that Cincinnati game and didn’t mention Flacco by name one single time. His entire career has devolved to a pathetic defense of Joe Flacco. And, this from a former Steelers beat writer. No wonder Merrill hates you. Hilarious!!”

  7. You see most people who post on there think he’s crazy as all hell. I honestly think something is wrong with him. He’s clearly lost his mind. Maybe he doesn’t report to anyone over there. Len Pasquarelli must do everything but spit in his drink whenever they’re together. Len used to work in Pittsburgh too and he knows his stuff. It’s just bizarre.

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