Revisiting Flacco-Troy Smith controversy

August, 12, 2014
8/12/14
12:00
PM ET
Former Baltimore Ravens backup quarterback Troy Smith was reportedly benched by the CFL's Montreal Alouettes on Monday, which brought back memories of a quarterback controversy that seems ridiculous now.

Flacco
In 2008, the Ravens had intended to start Smith and sit Joe Flacco for his rookie season. But, after Smith got a severe case of tonsillitis in the middle of the preseason and Kyle Boller suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, Flacco went from the No. 3 quarterback to the starting one a few weeks before the start of the regular season.

There were rough games early for Flacco, who threw two touchdowns and seven interceptions in his first seven games. That led some fans, and even one player, to suggest Smith should replace Flacco.

"Right now, I think [Flacco is] all right," Suggs told an Atlanta radio station in October 2008. "But like I said, in the end, Troy should be the starter [because he's] the better man for the job."

Of course, the Ravens stuck with Flacco and the rest is championship history. Even the harshest Flacco critic would chuckle if you tried to argue Smith is a better quarterback these days.

Flacco has led the Ravens to five straight playoff seasons, and he was named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player in February 2013. His 62 regular season victories are the most by a starting NFL quarterback in the first six seasons of a career.

Smith, meanwhile, has played for four teams and three different leagues since being cut by the Ravens in 2010. He was not re-signed by the San Francisco 49ers after playing one season with them (2010), was a backup for one season (2011) with the United Football League's Omaha Nighthawks and was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers after offseason practices were completed (2012). He was out of football for nearly 14 months before signing a two-year deal with Montreal.

It was bad luck that an illness kept Smith from the Ravens' starting job in 2008. But it was only a matter of time before Flacco was going to take over as the franchise quarterback.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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