By Matt Vensel
3:35 PM EDT, May 20, 2013
In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, Joe Flacco was criticized for saying at a news conference that the idea of a cold-weather Super Bowl was “retarded,” something the Ravens quarterback apologized for a day later.
This past weekend, Flacco -- and fellow Ravens players Ed Dickson and Gino Gradkowski -- signed a pledge to eliminate the use of the "r-word.” Special Olympics Maryland tweeted out a photo of the players on Saturday.
After he was drafted by the Ravens in 2008, Flacco quickly established a relationship with Special Olympics Maryland, hosting several events and even jumping into the frigid Chesapeake Bay at the Polar Bear Plunge.
But Flacco turned off some local fans and was criticized nationally when he dropped the “r-word” in February. He immediately tried to backpedal, saying “I guess I shouldn’t say that [word]” and correcting himself to say he thought a cold-weather Super Bowl was “stupid.” During the Super Bowl media day, he apologized.
"It was a bad choice of words," he said. "I have a great relationship with Special Olympics back in Baltimore and have had one for many years. I didn't mean to offend anybody but I definitely apologize for that."
The organization stood by Flacco after his big slip-up, the only major mistake Flacco made during the Super Bowl experience.
"We're glad to see he took it back immediately and recognized that he kind of made a slip," Special Olympics Maryland spokeswoman Linda Ellingsworth said. "We’re still supportive of him and look forward to working with him in the future."
Ellingsworth added that the organization would use it as an opportunity to further educate people on the usage of the word.
Flacco, with a pair of teammates at his side, followed through over the weekend, signing the pledge for the Special Olympics.
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