Joe Flacco makes South Jersey proud

Joe Flacco makes South Jersey proud
February 5, 2013, 11:00 am
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There is a great deal of pride in South Jersey when a native son excels the way Joe Flacco did this season.

I live in South Jersey and over the years you hear stories about athletes who were pretty good as high school and college players but never developed their skills the way Flacco did. The route to Super Bowl MVP was not a direct one for Flacco but he beat all of the odds. According the NCAA, only nine in 10,000 high school seniors who play football end up getting drafted by the NFL. The odds are probably even less for transfer students, which Flacco was.

I see the numbers, but I continue to be amazed how South Jersey continues to produce highly talented athletes who have had immense success as a pro. When I talk to Flacco’s former high school teammates and coaches you learn how little he has changed. What you see in the press conferences is just how Flacco is, mild-mannered, polite but a very competitive athlete. Success has not changed him at all. He is the same guy with an incredible talent who enjoys hanging out with his childhood friends.

Last week I caught up with Mike Trout and we talked about his days growing up in Millville, N.J. Trout is arguably baseball’s most heralded young star and yet growing up he put baseball aside for a couple of months so he could enjoy other sports. He loved playing basketball and was a quarterback in high school.

Too many times I see parents with the thought that their child is the next great one and before you know the kid is burnt out. The NCAA says that one in 6,600 high school seniors who play baseball will make it to the big leagues and those odds must be significantly higher for a player from the northeast. It makes you appreciate what Flacco and Trout have accomplished. Both players represent the area very well and their futures are sky high. Trout appeared in his first national television commercial for Subway which debut during the Super Bowl broadcast. Flacco will face similar opportunities in the months ahead.

Flacco and Trout are not alone representing South Jersey. Somerdale’s Michael Kidd-Gilcrist was the second overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft and Delran’s Carli Lloyd scored both goals in the United States gold medal winning soccer game at the London Olympics. Great athletes with bright futures, I only wished they played for a Philadelphia team.

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