Eisenberg: Flacco Can Take Lessons from Bisciotti


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Bisciotti stands with the rest of the owners on their principles, but he gets the bigger picture. As much as both sides want to win the PR war, squawking about money seldom shines you in a positive light.

Ravens quarterback **Joe Flacco** waded into those murky waters last weekend when he told the Sun he was unhappy the Ravens were waiting until 2012 to address his contract extension. Flacco said he thought he had proved himself enough to enable talks to start this year.

It was the second time Flacco, 25, has made a pointed statement since the end of the 2010 season; he also criticized the team for firing Quarterbacks Coach Jim Zorn, saying he felt his voice hadn't been heard.

Ordinarily, the Ravens are excited when Flacco feels compelled to express his thoughts. Their quarterback is a naturally quiet guy whom the team sees developing into a leader, and stating his opinion, especially a sensitive one, is usually a sign of leadership.

But in this instance, the young quarterback could learn from the guy who owns his team. Fighting over money in public is unseemly.

That's not leadership. That's "I want mine."

I understand the rationale that has him frustrated – he has built up some leverage after taking the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his first three years, and who knows whether he will have as much leverage in a year? He could get injured, or not play as well. The risk is on his end.

But frankly, such thoughts are better left unsaid. There are other factors to consider.

The NFL operated without a salary cap in 2010, but a new collective bargaining agreement almost surely will contain one. That means the players on each team will share whatever money the league allots them for overall salaries. In other words, if you get more, someone else gets less.

Flacco already is making more than a lot of his teammates. As a former first-round pick entering the fourth year of his original five-year deal, he will reportedly make $4.585 million and $4.61 million in base salaries over the next two years. There are guys huddling up with him who wish they made that much.

Yes, Flacco was right when he said he had played well enough to establish himself as the Ravens' franchise quarterback -- a high-paying role, for sure. But he doesn't play in a vacuum. He has teammates. And at least one of them, defensive tackle **Haloti Ngata**, is ahead of him in line for a big payday.

That's the way these things work, just like they do in most other workplaces. You get paid when it's your time to get paid.

Flacco's time is coming. Bisciotti wasn't making idle chatter when he said in the Sun interview that he planned to reward the quarterback with an extension by 2012. Bisciotti doesn't make idle chatter. Flacco has every right to feel skeptical, but the Ravens' owner has a record of backing up what he says about paying players who deserve big money.

He doesn't just hand it over. Sorry, life isn't that easy. There is a negotiation, sometimes long and difficult, but the Ravens are known for finding a way to satisfy the players they value most.

Flacco is such a player. Aside from his on-field skills, he is the consummate team guy, the kind of player you want as a leader. He always talks to the press, win or lose. He never laterals the blame, never calls out a teammate or a coach, even when such treatment might be deserved.

He understands that sometimes it's best just to bite your tongue, and after seeing the headlines that his remarks about his contract generated, I am guessing he will be biting away.

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