Joe Flacco sat at his uncle's home in South Jersey eating pizza on Friday with his immediate and extended family - as he does every Friday - when news started to break that the Audubon native and Super Bowl-winning quarterback was on the verge of a record-breaking contract.
"What's it feel like? Can you believe it?" his uncle asked about the $120.6 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens, the richest in NFL history.
If there was any lingering doubt of Flacco's status in the NFL - even after five playoff appearances and a Super Bowl MVP award - then the contract he officially signed on Monday will serve as validation.
One decade ago, Flacco was a tall, promising quarterback at Audubon High School. One decade later, he signed the six-year deal that reportedly guarantees him $52 million, including a $29 million signing bonus.
"It was never necessarily about the money and all that," Flacco said, "but it was definitely about earning that respect and feeling like I was respected around here."
Flacco mentioned "respect" four times on Monday, and that seemed to be his driving force in the deal. The 28-year-old quarterback remained characteristically understated about the actual money. When asked how he would celebrate, he said he was going out to dinner. When asked what he would buy, he said, "Nothing immediately." Asked what his wife would purchase, he answered with a laugh, "Hopefully, not much."
But Flacco understands the market value for elite quarterbacks, and he considers himself in that category. His motivation for this contract was about being fairly compensated.
That's why Flacco rejected a contract extension last summer. It was a risk, particularly if he was hurt, but one that he was willing to take as much on principle as on speculation.
"I thought I was worth more and didn't really see any circumstances where I wouldn't end up getting paid more than what they were willing to give me at that point," Flacco said. "So, I figured play one more year and see what we can do as a football team, have confidence in myself, have confidence in the guys around me, and just let it play itself out from there."
For Ravens' Joe Flacco, record payday means respect
Philly.com | Mar 5