Joe Flacco’s got “It."
And he gets it.
When a stellar-quality NFL quarterback strides into a room, stands in a crowd, runs onto a field or even steps onto a podium, people feel his air appearance — the charge, conviction, confidence and command.
The “It’’ influence.
Tim Tebow was blessed with “It,’’ but not the skill and the passing proficiency.
John Elway and Peyton Manning were the only Broncos quarterbacks in franchise history who possessed both “It’’ and extreme expertise and knowhowability. Tom Brady is Mr. It, and ...
Here comes Flacco.
Several years ago Joe stated emphatically that he was the best quarterback in the league. He certainly was No. 1 for one season (2012) — leading the Ravens past the Colts, the Broncos, the Patriots and the 49ers with 11 touchdowns (including the one in the Mile High Flacco Fiasco (for Broncos’ fanatics) and zero interceptions. He certainly became the highest paid for a while and was more renowned in Baltimore than Faidley’s crabcakes.
After 11 seasons with the Ravens, he now is Bronco Joe.
Flacco put on the team’s uniform for the first time Tuesday as the Broncos held their first day of a “volunteer" minicamp.
“I get excited every season,’’ said the 34-year-old 6-foot-6, 245-pound, bearded Flacco, once named the most handsome man in pro football. “But this is a different excitement.’’
I said to Joe that he had changed teams once before, and it worked out well. “You know, you’re right. I thought about that when this (trade) occurred. Last time it was different because it was my decision, and I wanted to do it. This time it wasn’t like I wanted to do it, but the way everything went down, I was ready to do it. Obviously, after last season when I got hurt and the way Lamar (Jackson) finished the season out, to be honest with you, I saw the writing on the wall, and to be honest with you, I was excited about this being the spot for me.’’
Flacco began his college career at the University of Pittsburgh, but rarely played and eventually transferred to Delaware and set practically all of the Fightin’ Blue Hens quarterback records. However, Flacco once asked for the coach’s permission to play baseball because Flacco he believed he had no future in the NFL.
Yet, Flacco was selected 18th overall — and has outperformed all the other quarterbacks from that draft.
Tuesday, after he met with the media — “Do I get up on this box,’’ he asked — Joe and I played trivia at Dove Valley. He was born in Audubon, N.J., and still lives in the area near Philadelphia, so I asked: “How many quarterbacks from New Jersey have started for the Broncos?’’, I asked. Joe was stumped on Frank Tripucka, Pete Liske and Chris Simms. “Really? I have to look them up.’’ He proudly told a member of the staff that he would become the fourth Jersey Boy in Colorado.
“Did you know your likeness was on a gigantic banner at Mile High Stadium and on street corners all over downtown in 2013 before the opening game?’’
“I never saw them then and had totally forgotten about that even after I got here. Someone I met mentioned it to me. ... That’s very funny, especially how the previous season had ended. I’m sure I wasn’t very popular in Denver.’’ Bronco Joe was Enemy No. 1. I told him I wouldn’t mention what the other guy (Manning) did in that Thursday night game. Peyton threw seven touchdown passes.
“I think people are over it.’’
Flacco used to idolize Manning and Brady when he was in college. He beat both back-to-back in the playoffs and has 10 postseason victories overall.
Elway was traded from Baltimore to Denver. Manning was thrown to the curb by the Colts when he was 36.
If only Flacco can duplicate what they did for Denver in their 30s.
It’s believed by the washed masses that Joe will be a short-term Broncos quarterback. But he expects to prove them wrong. He says: “I don’t care if they take a quarterback at 10 (in the first round) or whatnot. What I care is I want this team to be as good as it can at quarterback. If it helps the team, I’m all for getting value. It is what it is.’’ There’s no doubt Flacco will start this season, and he expects to for more seasons.
“As a new quarterback, who just naturally is a leader on the team,’’ he added, “The first thing I have to prove to everybody on this football team is that I can play and be that quarterback. Then, anything is possible. If they believe I’m the guy — I believe I’m the guy — that’s when your leadership can take off, and this team can take off. It’s all about going out there and performing."
Flacco brought up that he’s the oldest player on the Broncos’ roster.
“I got my feet wet today going through the process,’’ Flacco said to the assembly of press type. “Being a new guy, I even have to find a seat in the lunchroom.’’
He was the presence inside the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse warming up with team managers, then throwing to seven wide receivers who were in elementary school when Joe joined the NFL. (Emmanuel Sanders still is recovering from injury and didn’t participate in the workout.) Joe said he was comfortable “talking to the kids.’’ Flacco and his wife have five of their own. “It’s important this time of the year to build team camaraderie.’’
Joe has a right arm that could complete a pass almost the length of the mammoth facility. He has in the past. Remember the miracle pass.
At one point during the session, Elway his own self, materialized in the end zone and quietly watched his quarterback fire business passes. Ol’ No. 7 didn’t reveal what he thought of new No. 5.
Vic Fangio and Elway sincerely praised Flacco when he arrived. “That really helps your psyche, to know that you’re wanted. Obviously, when you go to a new situation, to be accepted really makes the transition,’’ he told me.
Unlike the procession of quarterbacks who passed through Denver the past three seasons, Bronco Joe has what “It’’ takes.