The Supreme Court today agreed to hear arguments in Flacco v. Elite, a case that will determine the eliteness, or lack thereof, of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. The Court will hear the case during its next term and the verdict will have a far-reaching impact on how the term “elite” is assigned to quarterbacks in the future.
The case revolves around Flacco, a 28 year-old NFL quarterback, who has middling career statistics, but also a Super Bowl championship ring. Flacco supporters say his championship and career won-loss record prove he is “elite,” while detractors point out that his winning record is primarily thanks to playing with a good defense, while his Super Bowl run benefited by great luck.
While the Court’s ruling will only decide Flacco’s status, it will set a framework that determines how all other current and future quarterbacks are judged. The Court could rule Flacco elite or not elite. A third option is that the Justices will throw out the case, ruling that the term “elite” no longer has any meaning and therefore the law is unable to control its usage.
Court watchers are interested to see how the justices decide the case. It is assumed that the conservative Justices will use a very strict, traditional definition of “elite” — that only a handful of quarterbacks with both gaudy statistics and a good win-loss record can be given the tag — while liberal Justices will apply a more open and inclusive usage of “elite,” opening the designation to most anyone who throws a touchdown.
Justices will hear written statements from past quarterbacks, including Dan Marino arguing that Flacco is not elite, while Brad Johnson advocating elite status for any quarterback with a Super Bowl ring.
The Court has not yet announced whether it will hear arguments in the case Jordan v. LeBron.