Quarterback Joe Flacco had no idea that a large banner with his image was hanging from Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the home of the Denver Broncos, until wide receiver Torrey Smith and a couple of his other teammates sent him a picture of the stadium via text message.
“I can’t believe it,” Flacco said Sunday. “I can’t imagine people in our city would be too happy if somebody from another team was hanging from our stadium. I didn’t have anything to do with it.”
Four days before the Broncos host the Ravens to kick of the 2013 NFL season, the hottest topic in both Baltimore and Denver was the controversial Flacco banners -- which were part of the NFL’s marketing plan for the game -- that last week popped up at Sports Authority Field at Mile High and on lampposts in downtown Denver. The banner on the stadium is several stories tall.
Flacco was peppered with questions about them on a conference call with Denver reporters and later answered several questions about them at his weekly news conference in Baltimore.
“I figure I’m getting some heat for it,” he said. “But like I said, I didn’t go post it up there myself.”
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who appears on the stadium next to Flacco, said in a Denver radio interview last week that having a banner of Flacco on their stadium “doesn’t seem like it makes sense.” And Denver fans voiced their concerns. Some organized an online petition.
Flacco understands why they are upset and said he doesn’t mind being hated. He added that he is now a fan of Texas A&M; quarterback Johnny Manziel because of how much he is scrutinized.
“It’s all cool. Being hated isn’t a bad thing. I don’t know if I’ll be too popular for [saying] this, but I don’t know how I really felt about Johnny Manziel, but I feel like now everybody hates him,” Flacco said of the Heisman Trophy winner. “He’s quickly becoming my favorite player in college football.”
Coach John Harbaugh also said he didn’t understand why the NFL put banners of Flacco on Denver’s stadium and that he couldn’t envision a banner of Manning at M&T; Bank Stadium.
“I understand why the Broncos and their fans would feel the way that they do,” Harbaugh said. “And I know it will have no bearing whatsoever on the football game."
Rush linebacker Terrell Suggs might have been the only person in Baltimore or Denver that had not yet heard of the Flacco banners in Denver. Suggs said that he thought the story was a hoax.
“That’s real? I didn’t know that was real,” Suggs said. “Who put it up there? The NFL? That’s kind of weird don’t you think?”