atlanta falcons

Ravens reportedly tried to trade entire draft class to get Matt Ryan in 2008

In 2007, the Ravens went 5-11 and that, coupled with the lack of development from 2003 first-round pick Kyle Boller, had a lot to do with the team’s decision to fire Brian Billick. In Atlanta, first-year coach Bobby Petrino quit after 13 games and the Falconslimped to a 4-12 record. Joey Harrington, Chris Redman and Byron Leftwich all started games that season.

Both teams headed into the 2008 NFL Draft desperately in search of a franchise quarterback. The Falcons had the No. 3 pick while the Ravens were No. 8. It was no great secret that Atlanta had designs on Matt Ryan, who had starred at Boston College, but Baltimore wasn’t going to let him go without a fight.

According to‘s Ian Rapoport, the Ravens talked with the Rams, who had the second-overall pick, about swapping places so they could leapfrog the Falcons in the race to Ryan. So what was on the table?

Rapoport says the Ravens offered their entire draft class to the Rams, adding that “The trade nearly happened, but the Rams asked for more — they also wanted Baltimore’s second-round pick from 2009 to clinch the deal.”

That was the deal-breaker, apparently, and instead the Ravens traded down to the No. 26 pick (with the Jaguars) and then back up to No. 18 (with the Texans) where they selected Joe Flacco.

As points out, the Ravens ended up with a strong class:

Rd. 1 Pick 18: QB Joe Flacco
Rd. 2 Pick 55: RB Ray Rice
Rd. 3 Pick 71: LB Tavares Gooden
Rd. 3 Pick 86: S Tom Zbikowski
Rd. 4 Pick 106: WR Marcus Smith

And that 2009 second-rounder turned into another good player, pass rusher Paul Kruger.

Plus, it’s not like Flacco has been a stiff; he caught fire in the playoffs following the 2012 season and had everything to do with the Ravens’ win over the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII (Flacco was named Super Bowl MVP).

Ryan has been more efficient over the course of his regular-season career, according to Football Outsiders’ metrics. Here’s how the two quarterbacks ranked in value per play in each of their first nine seasons:

Year Ryan Flacco
2008 4th 22nd
2009 15th 7th
2010 7th 15th
2011 7th 18th
2012 8th 17th
2013 9th 35th
2014 9th 8th
2015 18th 26th
2016 1st 29th

Ryan’s numbers are also better in the postseason — in seven games he’s completed 68 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and a QB rating of 98.8. But the Falcons are 3-4 in those games. Flacco, meanwhile, sports a 10-5 record in the postseason — including the aforementioned Lombardi Trophy — where he’s thrown 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but completed just 57 percent of his throws with a QB rating of 88.6.

The takeaway: Quarterback wins are overrated. But you already knew that. The bigger story is that the Ravens have been successful for much of Flacco’s nine-year career because they were able to surround him with really good players. Ryan might be the better quarterback but there’s no guarantee he would have had Flacco’s success in Baltimore without inferior talent around him.


Report: Emails Show Atlanta Falcons Were Giving Players Incredible Amounts Of Painkillers

Emails first published by the Associated Press show that members of the Atlanta Falcons’ front office were worried about the team’s excessive use of painkillers when treating injured players.

The emails were sent in 2010, and the discussion was started by Marty Lauzon, who was the team’s head athletic trainer at the time and is currently the organization’s director of sports medicine.

In May of 2010, shortly after he was hired, Lauzon sent an email to GM Tom Dimitroff and strength coach Jeff Fish in which he detailed the findings of a review conducted by a firm called SportPharm, which the NFL contracted to examine how teams were purchasing, dispensing, and tracking medications. Lauzon’s email read:

Within the first two days on the job, I was informed that we barely missed a DEA investigation because of improper billing issues.

SportPharm informed us after their visit, of their major concerns with the Falcons in-house pharmacy:

1. High inventory of medication on-site which can lead to high return of unused medication, poor control, excessive dispensation, unnecessary increase in budget.

2. High dispensation of narcotics and regular medication compared to other clubs; this creates culture of dependency and goes against healthy lifestyles and care, even for an NFL player. My concern is also with these players at the end of their careers going through medical issues, and also with the ease of access to media outlets that can provide them the opportunity to say they abused or are now addicted to a number of medications.

3. After Mary Anne Fleming [Director of Player Benefits at League Office] reviewed our issues with SportPharm, her recommendations were to start clean on all levels including new team physician, new head trainer, and new pharmacy account number.

4. Overspending in regards to medication. We were informed on average an NFL team spends about 30k per year on player prescriptions. We spent 81k in 2009 between two pharmacies. In comparing our new medication process to 2009, we spent $700 on players prescriptions in April in 2010, compared to $8,700 in 2009 while improving our quality of care for the players.

Please review, as with all of our meetings so far, another productive one. Our goal is to strive to provide the highest standard of care to our players. Please let me know if you need further information.

After receiving Lauzon’s email, Dimitroff forwarded it to team owner Arthur Blank. “I thought it important for you to be aware of a rather sensitive subject and one we need to discuss before include others on this topic matter,” he wrote. “In my mind and I’m sure yours, this is very important and needs to be handled in a correct and expeditious manner.”

Blank responded, and suggested that team president Rich McKay be looped in on the discussion. After being looped in on the email thread, McKay reached out to notorious league concussion quack Elliot Pellman and expressed concern over Fleming’s recommendation that the Falcons replace their team doctors. McKay’s email read:

Here is an exchange that I am not happy about—this is Jeff Fish trying to get after Scott G. My question is Mary Anne Fleming recommending the replacement of our Drs. I need to know—is this really true and does she realize the on-site trainer is really in control??? I need to keep this confidential…

Pellman replied to the email by offering to call McKay on the phone.

These emails were entered into court record last week as part of a proposed class-action lawsuit brought by 1,800 former NFL players who claim they were encouraged to abuse painkillers by team doctors. A similar suit was filed by eight former NFL players in 2014, but that case was dismissed by a federal judge who ruled that the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement offered better avenues for settling their grievances. That ruling is currently being appealed, and this new suit attempts to skirt it by suing individual NFL teams rather than the league as a whole.

According to the Associated Press, the emails sent by Lauzon and Dimitroff are just a small sample of the thousands of pages of evidence that the players’ attorneys have gathered in discovery.

You can read the full emails here.