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Anquan Boldin Prefers Flying Under The Radar

Posted Nov 9, 2012

The veteran wide receiver can get overlooked, but he's not concerned about personal numbers.

Anquan Boldin walked from his locker to the training room with a book in hand, looking to make a quick exit before the throngs of reporters made their way inside the locker room.

While some of his teammates hold court with the media, Boldin flies under-the-radar, rarely attracting a crowd or making headlines. A rare occurrence for a team’s top receiver, especially at a position with a "diva” reputation.

The 10-year veteran keeps a low profile, and he prefers it that way.  

"Actually I like it,” Boldin said with a smile. "If I can come to work every day, work, and not have to deal with anything else, that’s a perfect scenario for me.”

That personality carries over to the field, as Boldin gladly accepts his role within the Ravens offense, even if it doesn’t entail putting up jaw-dropping statistics like he did early in his career. He is just as happy to seal a downfield block for a long run as he is to rack up 100 receiving yards in a game – as long as the end result is a victory.

The mentality can lead to Boldin getting overlooked at times, but it’s a sacrifice he’s happy to make. 

"A lot of guys get caught up with stats and everything else that goes along with that, but he doesn’t,” running back Ray Rice said. "Anquan Boldin goes ahead and is a plugger. He just wants to win and he loves playing football.”

Boldin’s mindset has changed to some extent in recent years. Early in his career, the numbers carried much more weight.

"I’ve always wanted to win, but five years ago I wanted to get the ball as much as possible too,” he said.

Not anymore. Now he already has the stats.

He was the fastest player in NFL history to record 400, 500 and 600 receptions. He has topped 1,000 yards in five seasons. He is just 32 yards away from 10,000 career yards from scrimmage.

His name is scattered throughout the record books, but playing into his twilight years has put the significance of garnering statistics into perspective. 

"I feel like I’ve done everything possible in this league when it comes to stats and things like that. But I haven’t won a championship. That’s gotten me nowhere,” Boldin said. "All the, ‘Fastest to this, this many career yards,’ that has gotten me nowhere. In order to win a championship, you have to sacrifice certain things, and if that’s stats, then oh well. As long as I’m holding that trophy at the end of the year, I’m fine.”

The win-first approach fits in the Ravens locker room, which has a number of veterans like Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed, Matt Birk and Haloti Ngata still chasing their first NFL championship.

In an age of me-first receivers, Boldin is the exception to the norm, which has earned him the respect of his teammates.

"You don’t meet too many guys like that,” Rice said. "He’s so unselfish. He wants to do one thing and that’s win a Super Bowl.

"He’s the ultimate pro, the ultimate leader on this team.”

While Boldin may not match the numbers from his time with the Arizona Cardinals, he is still highly productive. He leads the Ravens with 510 receiving yards this year, which has him on pace to cross the 1,000-yard mark for his first time as a Raven.

He’s also clutch, which might be his greatest attribute for the Ravens. 

In Sunday’s win over the Browns, all five of Boldin’s receptions went for first downs, including a 21-yard gainer in the fourth quarter that broke a steak of seven straight three-and-outs and set up the Ravens’ game-winning drive.

"When we need something and he happens to be the guy that is called on, he usually comes up in the clutch – that’s the biggest thing,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. "That trust factor is a big deal when you talk about the pass game in general and when you talk about winning games in the fourth quarter. You have to have guys that you can trust out there to get it done when the game is on the line. Right now, he is one of those guys.”

During his three years in Baltimore, Boldin has also been the poster boy of consistency. He’s never gone a game without a catch and has been known to go to Flacco to let him know when he’s heating up.

But more importantly than jumping off the stat sheet or breaking any more records, Boldin is playing with one goal at the forefront of his mind.
"I just want to be able to walk away from this game hoisting the Lombardi Trophy,” he said. "That’s it for me."

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