Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco runs onto the field after the… (JIM YOUNG, REUTERS )
Ozzie Newsome, you can make it stop.
All this talk about Joe Flacco's contract that's consuming Ravens Nation? As the Ravens' general manager, you can make it all go away.
Just pay the man. Get a deal done so Ravens fans can go back to their lives. Get it done so they can stop vibrating with anxiety over the whole thing.
Ozzie, this is how bad it is. I have priests stopping me on the street to talk about what kind of hit Flacco's deal will have on the Ravens' salary cap.
I have little old ladies asking me whether Flacco should get an exclusive franchise tag or the nonexclusive one.
Whatever happened to playing Bingo?
Or hitting the Early Bird Special for the filet mignon?
And it cuts across all ages, Ozzie. All walks of life, too.
I just talked to Teri Litofsky, 44, a huge fan who went to the Super Bowl in New Orleans and watched the confetti rain down on the Ravens.
Now she stresses about how much Flacco is going to cost.
"He's got a lot of bargaining power," Litofsky says. "Cause he's got the ring."
Did I mention she's a physical therapist at Good Samaritan Hospital? I should probably mention that.
And guess what they talk about every day around the ol' orthopedic station? Yes, what kind of loot a certain quarterback deserves.
"Definitely," she said. "We have a ton of fans who talk about it — patients and staff."
Ozzie, did you hear that?
People with broken bones, rotator cuff problems and joint replacement issues are talking about Flacco's contract! People who should be focused on their own health!
Instead, they're focused on whether Flacco is worth $20 million a year or whatever ridiculous figure is being tossed about that day.
And they're getting more and more nervous about it.
"They just want it to be over," Litofsky said. They just want to know. It's just lingering. People just have angst over it."
Oh, you bet.
You want to hear angst, Ozzie? Tune in to local sports-talk radio. It's all-Flacco, all-the-time. At least that's the way it seems when I tune in.
It's not that Ravens fans worry Flacco might sign with another team. They worry about what his signing will do to the Ravens.
Will there be enough money left over to keep other key players, your Ed Reeds, your Dannell Ellerbes, your Anquan Boldins, your Cary Williamses?
Is it worth paying Flacco top dollar for all the disruption that could follow?
"There is definitely trepidation," said Scott Baylin, 39, a Reisterstown dentist who also attended the Super Bowl. "Although we see Joe step up at times, we also see inexplicable inconsistencies. I hate to use the term 'elite'' quarterback, but he's not a slam-dunk elite quarterback.
"You know who the elite quarterbacks are. And for him to make more money than all of them is a scary proposition for fans, ownership and management."
Look, this is no knock on Baylin. I'm sure he's a very fine dentist.
But do I want a man fiddling around in my mouth with drills and sharp instruments whose mind might be hundreds of miles away at the combine in Indianapolis, wondering when the Ravens will meet with Flacco's agent, Joe Linta?
I'm not saying that's happening with Baylin, Ozzie.
But you get my point here. The longer the Flacco contract talks drag on, the more immersed Ravens fans are in the process. And the more emotionally-invested they are in the outcome.
That's how passionate Ravens Nation is. Even if the non-stop contract talk is starting to drive some fans crazy.
"You can't get away from it," said Jack Mitchell of Lutherville. "And it's not just locally. Turn on Sportscenter and every time they talk about free agency, Joe Flacco is the first topic of discussion."
Speaking of Ravens fans being passionate, Ozzie, you'll love this one.
Not only is Mitchell a big fan, he's also the president of Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home, Inc.
So get this: on the Wednesday before the Super Bowl, Mitchell got a call from a man whose 90-something grandmother had just died.
The man wanted to make funeral arrangements — quickly.
As in: very quickly.
"Think we could have the viewing tomorrow and the funeral Friday?" the man asked. "I don't want to sound cold. But five of us are headed off to the Super Bowl."
Is that beautiful or what, Ozzie? But the funeral home got it done — exactly as requested.
Grandma was sent off with all the proper ceremonial dignity she deserved. And five Ravens jetted off to New Orleans to have maybe the greatest time of their lives.
Flacco had the time of his life in that game, too, as I recall.
Now it's time to pay the man, Ozzie.
So we can all get on with our lives.
Listen to Kevin Cowherd at 7:20 a.m. on Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."