Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Joe Flacco was out to prove something. Not on Sunday when the quarterback put up a Super Bowl MVP-caliber performance in a 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers, but since before he entered the NFL.
In 2008, Harbaugh sat down with Flacco, who was then a 23-year-old leaving the University of Delaware, for dinner at a Baltimore restaurant. The first-year NFL head coach walked away with a certain feeling about the quarterback the Ravens would go on to draft 18th overall that year.
"Joe impressed me as a guy that was really determined to be really good," Harbaugh said at his news conference Monday morning in New Orleans. "It felt he had a lot to prove. Joe came up the hard way. Joe is not a guy that had everything laid out there perfectly before him in college. He dealt with adversity. I just felt like he was a guy that would do whatever it took to overcome whatever to be the best that he was going to be.
"That's proven to be true," Harbaugh continued. "He's a guy that no matter what happens, no matter what criticism he felt in front of him, no matter what disappointments he might have, he steps up and he bounces back and he comes back and goes to work. I think he'll be the same with this success. I think he'll be right back there in OTA's and minicamps. He'll be going to work just like, maybe, we had lost this game. He'll be just as motivated and just as determined. That's one of the things that makes him great."
Five years after his dinner meeting with Harbaugh and playing in the Super Bowl, Flacco wanted to prove he deserved a lucrative contract extension. He wanted the world to see he's an elite NFL quarterback -- and it's hard to question that when Flacco has a Super Bowl victory and a Super Bowl MVP trophy under his belt.
There are only seven active quarterbacks in the NFL to start and win a Super Bowl, and Flacco now is one of them. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger are the others -- that's some pretty elite company.
Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.