Flacco wins honor that has some pop

The Baltimore Sun

TAMPA, FLA. - After not receiving a vote from sportswriters for the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco proved more popular among fans.

Flacco was named the Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year yesterday after becoming the first rookie quarterback in league history to win two playoff games.

More than 1 million fan votes were submitted for the award on the NFL's official Web site and Sprint wireless service.

"I would like to thank all the fans because this is a fan award," Flacco said after being given the trophy at the Super Bowl media room. "They've been voting every week and throughout the playoffs, which I'm sure helped a lot. It was a great year, and I couldn't really imagine it going this way for myself."

Two days after the regular season ended, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year by the AP. But the Diet Pepsi award had its voting during the postseason (Jan. 2 through Jan. 27), when Flacco outshined Ryan.

Flacco beat out four other finalists: Ryan, Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson and Houston Texans running back Steve Slaton.

When Flacco was named the winner, there was no reaction from the typically subdued quarterback. Not even a smile.

"I guess I could have acted more happy ... I don't know," he said afterward.

Flacco did crack up the media gathering when he gave his Super Bowl prediction.

"I saw [former NFL defensive tackle] Warren Sapp picked the Steelers because he wanted the Cardinals to win. I think I'm going to do the same thing," he said. "That's my pick - the Steelers. But Cardinals, I'm rooting for you."

Sharpe wanted Dilfer

The last Super Bowl in Tampa was won by the Ravens. Then they became the first Super Bowl winner to part ways with their starting quarterback.

So, would the Ravens have had a better chance to win a second Super Bowl if they had re-signed Trent Dilfer?

"I would have liked to have that opportunity," said former Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe, who is covering the Super Bowl for Sirius NFL radio. "Even if you don't promise him the starting job, you owe him the obligation to allow him to compete for it. For them to unceremoniously get rid of him and say thank you but no thank you, I didn't think that's right.

"I voiced my displeasure at the time. But you look at the track record for Ozzie [Newsome, Ravens general manager], and it's hard to argue that. But they at least owed him that much."

Holmes sold drugs

Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes revealed that he spent a year selling drugs while growing up in Belle Glade, Fla.

"I've only told three or four people about it," Holmes said. "I feel it's time to share things. I'm on the biggest stage. Everybody's going to be watching. I'm pretty sure some kids can get a feel for changing their lives and not doing those type of things, and can get an opportunity to get out of the ghetto, the 'hood, to be successful."

Three months ago, Holmes was benched against the New York Giants for a drug-related offense. He was charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana after police found marijuana-filled cigars in his car after a traffic stop.

Lone ex-Raven

The only former Raven playing in the Super Bowl is the Cardinals' Brian St. Pierre, a third-string quarterback.

St. Pierre spent most of the 2005 season on the Ravens' practice squad before he was signed to the active roster. He was the third quarterback for the final four games before re-signing with the Steelers in 2006.

"At the time, I think Kyle Boller was still big time in their plans," St. Pierre said. "When they brought Steve McNair in, that probably cemented my fate. I felt like I played pretty well there but I didn't get much of a chance."

Steelers linebacker James Harrison was with the Ravens in 2004 but was released before the regular season.

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