This week, I got to spend a little time with Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco for an article I'm working on for our season preview section (on newsstands Wednesday!). We chatted for about 15 minutes at the team's practice facility, and we hit on a bunch of topics, some of which weren't broached in my story due to space constraints.
One of those topics is how Flacco is handling fatherhood. The other is how his golf game is coming around. And what surprised me a little bit was how the two topics became intertwined at one point.
Flacco and his wife, Dana, have a 1-year old son named Stephen and their second child is due in the coming weeks. Dana and Stephen -- cute kid, by the way -- were spotted at the practice facility a couple of times during training camp.
Flacco, who last year joked that he would leave the diaper changing to his wife, said it has been no problem for him to juggle fatherhood while being a starting quarterback in the NFL.
"It's been great. There's something every day that you're still getting used to. But it's the coolest thing in the world. It's just unbelievable. Every day, something changes and you see something new. It's just a really cool experience," Flacco said. "With another one on the way, me and my wife are definitely going to be busy people. But that's what life is all about, having those little guys and watching them grow up and having fun with them."
Another thing that kept Flacco preoccupied this offseason was golf. It felt like every person I interviewed for the story had recently shot a round of golf with Flacco, but Flacco estimated that he could count on two hands the number of times he played golf in the offseason. But word on the street is that Flacco has a little bit of Happy Gilmore in his game -- minus the club-throwing, of course.
"He can hit it a mile. You can tell that if he had the time to do it and put his mind to it, he could be a really good golfer," said former NFL quarterback and current CBS analyst Rich Gannon, who like Flacco also used to play quarterback at Delaware. "He can kill the ball. But I had to tell him, 'Joe, put that driver away every once in a while and you'd be a lot better off.'"
Flacco and Gannon hit the links around the Fourth of July, and Gannon said that on one Par 5 hole, Flacco was on the fairway about 270 yards from the pin. He pulled out his 3-wood and let it rip, almost putting it over the green.
"He's got long arms and a big swing and he takes a mean rip at it. He can bomb it," Gannon said, chuckling. "I always thought I could hit it long on the course, but he was hitting it by me 50 or 60 yards on every tee shot."
Flacco acknowledged that he is a little inconsistent on the golf course, but it's more of a hobby to him than an obsession. So don't worry, he isn't going to go all Tony Romo on us and spend his offseasons trying to qualify for the PGA Tour.
"No, no, no. Not until after I retire," Flacco said. "I don't have that much interest in golf, to be honest with you. I like playing. It's fun. But after a while it gets boring."
Then Flacco, the father, said something that caught me off guard.
"I'm going to try to get my kid involved in golf and maybe try to get my kid to try to qualify for the PGA Tour. That's my dream," Flacco said. "Maybe in another 20 years, I can be retired and me and my wife can travel around and watch my kid or a couple of my kids play golf. That would be the dream."
Flacco has many more diapers to change in the meantime, and I'm sure he would like to win a few more Super Bowls. But he does allow himself to daydream about life after football.
And that's a good thing.