On the eve of his first on-field appearance before reporters since the Ravens drafted his heir apparent, quarterback Joe Flacco was in a lighthearted mood Wednesday afternoon.
Dressed in a team polo and jeans to present Digital Harbor teacher Nicole Veltre-Luton with the M&T Bank Touchdown for Teachers award and a $2,000 grant donation to the high school, Flacco took five questions from students midway through his appearance. After the last of them — “What role did education play in your success as a college and pro athlete?” — he all but owned up to the bit. These had been vetted.
‘’Hey, who came up with these questions?” he joked. “Did these guys come up with these?”
On any other day, the hundreds of adoring students watching him in the school’s auditorium, along with the rest of the Ravens fan base, would have wanted to know more about his thoughts on first-round draft pick Lamar Jackson. Or at least the NFL’s new national anthem policy. Those tougher questions will come Thursday, at the team’s first media availability this offseason for an organized team activity.
On Wednesday, though, the focus was on education.
“You can tell, she's probably had an impact on a lot of the young people's life,” Flacco said of Veltre-Luton. “And everybody that I meet and everybody that I really work with, there's somebody in their life that has had a big impact on them and made them who they are today. And we all need that. We can't do it by ourselves, and that's why it's great to have people like that.”
Flacco also stressed the importance of having someone who can push you to new heights.
“It's super important, because in order to get to the level that you want to be, you need to be able and willing to work in the classroom as well as on the field,” he said. “And I think a lot of us, whether it's our parents or a teacher or a coach, someone above the line, it's tough to do that by yourself, especially when you're a young kid. You don't necessarily know what's going to be in your future, but those people do.”