My father-in-law is not a sports fan.
My father-in-law is a blue-collar type. When something around our house breaks, my wife often doesn't bother to tell me. She just calls her father. His trade is fixing. And building. And just about anything else that requires an amount of elbow grease.
But he's not a sports fan. He doesn't plan his week around watching Ravens games. In fact, I couldn't tell you if he's even watched one this season. It's not about a "boycott" or anything like that. It's just not something that matters all that much to him. But he's aware of what's going on; he pays attention to local news and talks with his friends about what they're interested in. He also has a son-in-law who works in sports (and for some reason even seems to like the guy).
When we gathered at his house for a late Christmas celebration Dec. 30, he wanted to talk about the Ravens' recent hot streak. The conversation went something like this:
"So the Ravens really seem to be playing well with this new quarterback."
"Yeah, Pat, they're really running the ball well and playing great defense and not forcing him to have to do too much in throwing the ball."
"But it seems even the folks who wanted Joe Flacco to be the starter are really embracing him."
"It's hard not to root for the guy. Everyone has doubted him."
I still have no idea how I feel about some of the bigger issues that face the Ravens right now. The turns in the John Harbaugh saga are almost impossible to fathom. The sustainability of the offense is understandably doubtable. The futures of a number of veteran defenders are in doubt.
But I know that with the win against the Cleveland Browns and the AFC North title, this year's team has etched a special place in franchise history. And I know that until the ride ends, we can sit back and enjoy and deal with everything else later.
My father-in-law is right. Baltimore has quickly fallen in love with Lamar Jackson. It's not a story dissimilar to Flacco's.
Once upon a time, Baltimore embraced an imperfect quarterback who faced doubt because he came from a small school and wasn't given the opportunity to really show what he was capable of early on. When the rest of the country attempted to limit Flacco because of his statistics, Ravens fans were quick to defend him as a winner who did what was needed in big circumstances.
Fast forward a decade and Baltimore has embraced an imperfect quarterback who has faced doubt because of his non-traditional skill set, his size, his Wonderlic test score and so much more. When the rest of the country suggested he was a one-trick pony who could be exposed if forced to throw the ball, Ravens fans embraced the positives they saw from him as a passer and reminded everyone of how drastically things changed once he was inserted into the lineup.
It's hard not to root for the guy. It's hard not to think about former NFL general manager Bill Polian suggesting he couldn't play the position before the NFL Draft. It's hard not to be impressed by how he's handled himself in big situations while the team has been backed up against a wall. It's hard not to feel the joy with which he plays week in and week out.
And it will be hard to forget how special this run has been regardless of when it ends.
No matter what you think of how the Ravens have built their team in recent years or the decision to move on from their former Super Bowl MVP or whether you believe this will continue to work for years to come, this group and this run will hold a special place in Ravens fans' hearts.
Oddly, the 2008 Ravens have been my favorite team in franchise history. While they ultimately fell a game short of reaching the Super Bowl, their run (led by Flacco) was just so friggin' improbable that they captured a special place in my heart. This team is breathing in similar air space. They certainly weren't supposed to be here, particularly after they fell to 4-5.
We'll have plenty of time to deal with all of the other stuff. But for now, this accomplishment is to be celebrated. This run is to be enjoyed. This team is to be embraced. Let's enjoy the next few weeks.
Follow Glenn Clark on Twitter @GlennClarkRadio
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