Legacies are made in the playoffs and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has plenty at stake Sunday. Quarterbacks are the faces of franchises, win MVPs and get the big bucks. No one has more to gain this weekend than Flacco.
Tom Brady's reputation is cemented regardless of what he does during Sunday's AFC title game. Matt Ryan already won his first playoff game for the Atlanta Falcons. Few expect him to go from zero playoff wins to Super Bowl champion. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is in his second NFL season and didn't even begin the season as the starter. His career is in its infancy.
Flacco, however, has been in the playoffs in each of his five seasons in the NFL and this will be his third conference championship game. He already earned his upcoming payday by advancing to this point despite an uninspiring regular season. Only six current starting quarterbacks have played in a Super Bowl -- Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers. No one mentions Flacco in that group. But what if the Ravens pull off the upset?
"He has to win this week, win in the Super Bowl and play well before he gets the accolades and due that maybe he deserves," CBS analyst Phil Simms told the Baltimore Sun. "People can't admit they are wrong (and say), 'Maybe we looked at him the wrong way. Nobody can do that. For some reason, he can't be accepted. Maybe he needs to take a class in how to interview better to come off as being charismatic and for people to say, 'He's got the it factor.' Last year, they couldn't get on him. They said he played well, but if they lose, he will take -- if not all -- but most of the blame for the Baltimore Ravens."
Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.