The benching from Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh felt like a kick in the teeth. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as the kind of abuse Joe Flacco was getting from his wife, Dana, once he got home last fall.
“For the whole two months or however long I wasn’t playing, she joked about me being the backup quarterback,” Flacco, the Denver Broncos’ new starting quarterback, told reporters Friday after his first news conference at the team headquarters in Dove Valley. “And she thought they were the most hilarious thing in the world.
“They were pretty funny, I have to give her credit. A lot of friends on my team, they thought it was kind of funny, too. I’ll give her credit for those. But I’m happy to be back in a position where I can help the team win and she can shelve those for the time being.”
Broncos general manager John Elway is hoping the joke’s on the Baltimore Ravens, who benched the 34-year-old Flacco down the stretch last fall in favor of rookie Lamar Jackson, then traded him to Denver Wednesday for a fourth-round pick (No. 113) in this April’s draft.
“We’re getting a guy that I believe at 34-years-old, is still very young at the position he’s playing,” Elway said Friday when asked about Flacco, who’s started 163 regular-season games over the last 11 seasons and was named the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII. “He’s got a lot of experience and still has all the tools to make all the throws. So it really turned out to be a perfect situation for us.”
How perfect remains to be seen, but both sides talked at length Friday about getting exactly what they wanted out of the arrangement. For the Broncos, that meant a tall (6-foot-6), veteran, drop-back passer with stellar playoff mileage — 15 postseason starts, 10 of them wins — and a familiarity-slash-comfort with being the public face of a premier NFL franchise. For Flacco, it meant a fresh start in a new market, and a chance for Joe Cool to prove himself all over again. To Broncos fans. To the Ravens. And to doubters throughout the NFL.
“Listen, I’ve been in the league long enough to know that success is nothing but winning football games,” Flacco said. “I don’t care if you’re a young team, if you think you’re rebuilding — if you go win six, seven, eight games, that’s not success. Everybody’s real expectations are to go win games and be in the playoffs. Then from there, see what happens and go win a Super Bowl … and that’s what I’m trying to do the rest of my career: win the Super Bowl.”
The chip on Flacco’s shoulder that Elway likes so much isn’t just real — it’s spectacular. Just ask new Broncos coach Vic Fangio, who invited the quarterback up to his hotel room a few nights ago to talk shop, and admitted before the conversation that he “was a little worried that he wouldn’t be excited to be here, having been out on the East Coast his whole life.
“But I had to kick him out of the room about two hours later. He’s fired up to be here.”