The Ravens signal-caller caused a stir this off-season by saying that he thinks he's the best QB in the NFL. Through five games he's 4--1 with 1,456 passing yards.
DAN PATRICK:Have you been asked any silly questions lately, like, Are you an elite quarterback?
JOE FLACCO: I'm mostly getting questions about the Orioles.
DP:Are you an Orioles fan?
JF: You have to be, here—kind of hard not to when they're doing so well.
DP:You're from South Jersey. Are you a Phillies fan?
JF: When they're good. I'm a front-runner.
DP:Did you grow up an Eagles fan?
JF: Honestly, not really. I liked players around the league. And I'm a front-runner.
DP:What jersey did you wear growing up?
JF: Probably Jerry Rice's.
DP:Not a quarterback's?
JF: No. I liked everybody—mostly running backs because they were the main guys [when I was] growing up in the '90s.
DP:When you played in the backyard, what quarterback did you pretend to be?
JF: Joe Montana.
DP:Last time you asked for an autograph?
JF: I went to a Capitals game a couple of years ago and got [Alex] Ovechkin to sign something for me.
DP:Were you nervous about asking?
JF: I got my equipment manager to do the dirty work.
DP:Now every quarterback gets asked if he's elite. When you first heard the question this off-season, what was your reaction?
JF: I think about that question, and I'm like, What the hell is it? It's very awkward to answer. I'm going to start going into interviews with a rule that I'll do the interview as long as you don't ask me that. It's kind of a goofy question. It's not for me or any of us to debate.
DP:Is there a right answer?
JF: It's a setup question. You get knocked over the head for either answer.
DP:Just say you're an elite I-AA quarterback because you went to Delaware.
JF: I'm not going to admit to that either.
DP:How would you attack the Ravens' defense?
JF: I'd spread it out.
JF: Throw the ball.
JF: Yeah. I'd do that to every defense in the league if I had complete control.
DP:How often are you allowed to call your own plays?
JF: I think I could do it every play. I might not be good at it. That's why you have your offensive coordinator and why we work together during the week. We have little things built into the calls he makes that allow me to make adjustments.
DP:Sometimes you look like Peyton Manning out there, calling audibles.
JF: When you do the no-huddle stuff we're doing, you have to have a little bit of that. You want to take advantage of what they're giving you. When they give you a look that's advantageous to throw against, you don't want to take just three yards. You want to hit them over the head.
DP:Ravens will win the Super Bowl if ...
JF: If we ... I don't know. If we're capable of taking the field every week.
DP:Oh, c'mon. Try that again.
JF: If we continue to move the chains on offense and continue to limit the points that other teams score on our defense.
DP:And you play like an elite quarterback.
JF: And our whole offense plays elite.
I kind of feel like a cougar: not too old to draw interest [from NBA teams], but maybe overlooked because of experience and age. My role is to use my experience to help the guys [on the Lakers] pull this thing together."
—STEVE NASH, 38-year-old point guard
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis told me he lost weight this off-season by juicing—but wanted to be clear he was talking about the all-natural liquid variety, not PEDs. "Everything isn't tainted," Lewis said. "Life is O.K. Vegetables. Regular juicing." ... Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt wants to take advantage of cornerback/returner Patrick Peterson's playmaking abilities. "I'd say he's on par with [Chicago's] Devin Hester," Whisenhunt said. "He can make a game-changing play at any time. I'd love to have [him play more on offense]." ... CBS Radio host Doug Gottlieb told me his former employer ESPN wanted him to emphasize certain topics. "I was told specifically, You can't talk enough Tebow," Gottlieb said. "For whatever reason, people can't get enough of that story, and [ESPN] kind of stokes the fire." ... NFL Network's Rich Eisen recently interviewed Matt Ryan and told me the Falcons quarterback needs a new nickname. "He's outgrown Matty Ice," Eisen said. "That sounds like something a high school or college kid gets called. I asked him permission [to use] the Mattural."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY
KEVIN DIETSCH/UPI/LANDOV (FLACCO)
KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT/US PRESSWIRE (EISEN)
JOE MURPHY/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (GOTTLIEB)
CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES (WHISENHUNT)
BOB ROSATO (LEWIS)