Joe Flacco RAVENS QB
The rookie out ofDelaware has started every game.
Dan Patrick: Doyou still feel like a rookie?
Joe Flacco: We'redeep into the season now, and I've been through situations, so no.
DP: But does yourvoice ever squeak in the huddle, when you're calling a play?
JF: Oh yeah. Allkinds of things happen, stuttering, asking guys for help. . . .
DP: Wait. Why areyou stuttering?
JF: The plays canrun long, you start talking fast, and it doesn't come out right. And sometimesyou walk up to the line and you're like, what did I just call? It's happened toeverybody, they've gone up to the line and asked the right guard, What did Ijust call?
DP: Do you textother rookie quarterbacks?
JF: No. I'm not abig texter. I don't really communicate too well with others.
DP: You don't playnice? Is that what you're saying?
JF: I'm all aboutbeing nice, but I'm just not into the texting thing.
DP: Aren't youglad Ray Lewis isn't chasing you?
JF: I'm glad ourwhole defense isn't chasing me.
DP: Does Ray talkto you on Sundays, saying, "Joe, we need you to step up there"?
JF: Yeah. It'sintense. He's putting his head right on yours and looking you right in the eyeand making you feel uncomfortable. But coming from Ray Lewis, it's prettycool.
DP: Did you hearthe Terrell Suggs comments on the radio that Troy Smith should be the startingquarterback instead of you?
JF: He mentionedthat to me this morning, but I didn't hear it, no.
DP: So Suggs cameup to you? What did he say?
JF: He was aroundthe locker, and I forget what he really said, but he didn't make a big dealabout it. I was like, I don't care, whatever.
DP: Is his lockernext to yours?
JF: No, he wasjust hanging out. . . .
DP: I think that'sa preemptive strike there, Joe. Did what he said bother you?
JF: No. I feellike these guys got my back.
(Postscript: Threedays after this interview Flacco, on a trick play, caught a pass from . . .Troy Smith in the Ravens' 29-10 win over the Raiders.)
THE FUNNIESTYouTube video of the last week has to be referee Wilber Hackett Jr. putting ahit on scrambling quarterback Stephen Garcia in the LSU-South Carolina game.This could be the first documented case of Football Flashback syndrome. Hackettplayed linebacker at Kentucky in the 1960s, and it looks as if he suddenlysnapped when he saw a Gamecock headed his way. The cure: Don't put refereesnear the positions they used to play. No former linebackers in the defensivebox, no ex-running backs in the offensive backfield, where they might take thehandoff and go for six. A zebra, we're learning, doesn't change hisstripes.
When NASCARdrivers come on the show, I like to ask them, "If NASCAR staged anMMA-style event, who would you like to get in the Octagon with?" (addingthat it's all in good fun, of course). Some of their answers:
•JEFF GORDON:"I can take Kasey Kahne, no problem. I'm a scrapper. I surprise people. Iseem real calm, but when it comes to stuff like that I get crazy."
•CARL EDWARDS:"Probably Kevin Harvick [Edwards had his hand on Harvick's neck onOct.¬†9 in a track scuffle, below]. His guys got a hold of me, and wedidn't get to finish it."
•JIMMIE JOHNSON:"I'd shoot for Tony Stewart, or Carl Edwards, or Juan Pablo Montoya. WithTony, after about four or five minutes he'd be winded, maybe less than that,and I'd tie him up in a knot."
A Better Way toPlay It
When the WorldSeries arrives, it's a reminder of how silly it is that home field wasdetermined by who won the All-Star Game (even if it so happened that in thisyear's game the Phillies' Brad Lidge took the loss and the Rays' Scott Kazmirgot the win). Did one extra person watch the All-Star Game because home fieldwas at stake? John Smoltz, who hates this policy ("Why not have the homerun derby decide it?" he scoffed), offered a better idea for goosingAll-Star festivities: a game between U.S. players and international players.That would be one worth tuning in for.
THE FINE PRINT:Despite the Rays' success, Tampa is still not a baseball town. Five thousandpeople bought tickets for Game 8.
Go toDANPATRICK.COM for more from Joe Flacco and other recent interviews, and hearlive audio of Dan's radio show, 9 a.m.-noon ET, Mon.-Fri.
ILLUSTRATION BY KEITH WITMER
GERRY MELENDEZ/THE STATE/AP (REFEREE HIT)
GEOFF BURKE/US PRESSWIRE (FLACCO)