Somebody tell Joe Flacco to smile.
Flacco is winding up the most hectic week of his life and he’s caught in what is perhaps the brightest spotlight in all of sports, the one that shines on a Super Bowl quarterback during Super Bowl week.
And Flacco looks and acts like he’d rather be strapped into an electric chair than have to sit behind the podium that separates him from the media hordes that descend on the Super Bowl city every year.
In some ways, that’s understandable. The media get to interview players for one hour three times during Super Bowl week – on Tuesday at the stadium and then on Wednesday and Thursday at the team hotel, where players are ushered into a large ballroom and sit at tables with name cards so the media members know who they are. After that, it’s interview a la carte, as reporters sit down with the players they want to interview and the bigger the player, the bigger the media crowd.
That’s also why star players like Flacco don’t sit at a table – the Ravens QB has his own mini-stage and microphone to accommodate the media crush. And the media are from everywhere, including hundreds of reporters from other nations, and the players get asked all sorts of questions, many of them personal and/or stupid.
So, yeah, it can be a circus – but the circus can be fun if you give it a chance. And that seems to be a real problem for Flacco, who certainly didn’t have to deal with this kind of stuff when he played at the University of Delaware. Anyone who has followed his career since his days in Newark knows that Flacco isn’t flashy, to put it mildly. His coach at Delaware, K.C. Keeler, delights in telling the story of how an NFL personnel man was interviewing Flacco before the draft and wanted to know what music Flacco had in his iPod. And all the NFL guy got was a blank stare, because Flacco didn’t even own an iPod at the time.
And even though Flacco was always cooperative with the media during his days at Delaware, you always knew he didn’t like it, especially if the questions were about him. Plus, anyone who has watched a Flacco interview since he’s been in the NFL knows he’ll never rival Peyton Manning as a host on Saturday Night Live (Manning’s spoof of a United Way commercial might be the funniest skit in the show’s long history).
Flacco was at his sullen best (worst?) earlier this week when he made his discomfort with the interview process obvious – at one time he even muttered something about “I’d like to find a way to get myself off this podium.”
Well, Joe, where would you rather be? Sitting home and watching the festivities on television like Tom Brady and Matt Ryan, the two quarterbacks who lost in the conference championship games? Dealing with the media is part of your job and at this stage of the game it should be a least tolerable, if not enjoyable. Plus, it’s really not that bad – the players only have to talk to reporters three times in five days and just for an hour each time. So, cheer up, Joe.
There’s another reason Flacco should take a minute to look around and take some mental snapshots – he might never be here again. Just ask Ron Jaworski and Donovan McNabb, the only quarterbacks to ever lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl. Both thought they’d get more than one crack at winning the big game, but neither did. And both QBs have said they wish they had savored the moment a little more, since it did prove to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
So, we wish Joe Flacco make more of an effort to enjoy it all. He is the face of the Ravens now and it would be nice to see that face break into a smile every once in a while.
Contact Kevin Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org.