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TELANDER: Joe Flacco downplays role, but performance, pay say otherwise

Joe Flacco raising Lombardi Trophy last month reportedly has agreed history-making six-year $120.6 millideal. | EzrShaw~Getty Images

Joe Flacco, raising the Lombardi Trophy last month, reportedly has agreed to a history-making six-year, $120.6 million deal. | Ezra Shaw~Getty Images

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Updated: April 4, 2013 6:30AM



We media folks grilled Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco during Super Bowl week in New Orleans, and he insisted he wasn’t thinking about the new contract he would receive after the game.

He was all about the pending contest against the San Francisco 49ers. In fact, he was defensive about the criticism he and every other quarterback got simply because he, or they, hadn’t won the biggest of all games. As you might recall, there was budding disdain for the otherwise very successful Flacco because he had never won a Super Bowl.

Never mind that he had taken his team to the postseason in each of the five years he’d been with the Ravens, an NFL record. Where was his ring?

The big man did everything he could in those sessions to downplay the importance of his singular position and the harsh judgment of which quarterback was a ‘‘winner’’ and which was a ‘‘loser.’’

‘‘There’s a lot that goes on in a game that nobody outside the team knows,’’ Flacco said. ‘‘You guys tend to say, ‘Oh, the team lost. The quarterback had a bad game!’ Or, ‘He didn’t get the job done come crunch time!’ It’s not that way. You know, teams win because they have good football teams. They don’t win because they have good quarterbacks.’’

Flacco wasn’t exactly ranting. He was just sitting there at a small table in a hotel meeting room on a chair next to a handful of writers, talking earnestly. I think everyone grasped his point. Put Dan Marino on an average team and the Hall of Famer might never win a Super Bowl. Which happened.

But the irony was that Flacco himself was about to prove his theory almost wrong, or at least incomplete. His MVP game against the 49ers in the Ravens’ 34-31 win was one of the most precise by a quarterback ever. Indeed, during the four-game playoffs, Flacco threw 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions.

‘‘But the offensive line is just as big a part of it,’’ he protested. ‘‘The receivers you have are just as big a part of it. The defense is just as big a part.’’

He seemed like a nice guy. He wasn’t putting on airs. He was just an athlete from New Jersey, he reminded us.

Some goofy radio guy from Los Angeles, dressed like, I don’t know, Daniel Boone or Johnny Appleseed, jammed his way in front of Flacco and asked for a photo. Flacco agreed and smiled and even spoke into the guy’s microphone. The guy left. Flacco continued with his spiel.

‘‘The quarterback tends to be the guy who gets the most attention and scrutiny,’’ he said, ‘‘because they get paid the most.’’

So, Friday afternoon, according to reports, Flacco signed, in principle, a six-year contract with the Ravens for $120.6 million. That’s the biggest in NFL history.

Love his theory. It’s rich. It’s right.

WE HAVE FOUND OUT that some teams at the recent NFL combine asked prospective draftees about their sexual preferences. That is, to put it in playbook form: Are you hetero or gay?

Nobody has apparently asked anything about rookie bisexuality or transgender issues. But you figure the NFL inspectors would like to know about that stuff, too, if they knew what it meant.

All of this seems blatantly illegal, or at least rude and none-of-your-business. But you know NFL team-builders are on high sexuality alert after the Manti Te’o catfishing chaos and the passionate statements about the need for gay acceptance from active players Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo.

If there’s anything that scares an NFL general manager, it’s horseplay, or reflection, in the locker room. And bad 40 times.

The point here is that players — already pieces of meat to be chewed and dissected — are becoming pieces of, let’s say, corn chips, to be noshed and swallowed in pulp form.

For example, the Seattle Seahawks have security workers assigned to monitor the Facebook and Twitter feeds of prospective draftees. And the players can’t even fake it.

‘‘There are guys on Twitter that are being like Eddie Haskell or something, putting out, ‘I’m going to work out’ and it’s 3:30 in the morning or whatever,’’ Seahawks GM John Schneider said recently. ‘‘That’s kind of weird.’’

Don’t hide it, boys. If you’re drunk and stoned and preparing to fight the cops outside the bar, own it.

Just make sure it’s not a gay bar.



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