Sports

Flacco in prime position to make Ravens pay

NEW ORLEANS — Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco grabbed what he long desired. The Vince Lombardi Trophy solidified his stance in the game and generated the last bit of bargaining power he’d need before storming through the doors of team owner Steve Bisciotti’s office.

Yet, it’s what Flacco does from here that will leave the greatest mark on his legacy. The 28-year-old, five-year NFL veteran is a Super Bowl MVP who just played the final game of his rookie contract, and his next deal will set him up for life. But his performance through the impending contract is going to determine his reputation for the long term.

Flacco became the 30th starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl, and he is one of seven who are still playing, but only 11 have earned (at least) two rings. The 2008 first-round pick has been as scrutinized as nearly anyone at his position in today’s game, and he fuels some of that by responding to his critics.

On Sunday night, however, he delivered his greatest answer when the Ravens outlasted the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31. While teammates continuously screamed, “No one can take this away from us,” the sentiment might have held the most truth for Flacco, who capped a four-game postseason run with 1,140 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 57.9 completion percentage.

Now comes the tricky part, especially with the speculation that Flacco could command a deal upward of five years and $90 million to $100 million. It’s hard to argue his merits, but Baltimore’s free agents also include safety Ed Reed, outside linebacker Paul Kruger, inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, cornerback Cary Williams and left tackle Bryant McKinnie. Add linebacker Ray Lewis’ retirement and the possible release of wide receiver Anquan Boldin to save salary cap room, and Flacco might need to explore the notion of a hometown discount to keep the Ravens competitive in the AFC North.

“I’m pretty optimistic, but who knows?” Flacco said about the negotiations that will soon take place. “There’s all kinds of crazy things that can happen with these contracts that we’ve all seen before, but this is a great organization.

“I love being (in Baltimore), great city, so I don’t really anticipate any problems.”

Nod to New Orleans

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell conducted a news conference yesterday to reaffirm his support for both the city of New Orleans and the Superdome in light of the Super Bowl power outage.

Goodell was joined by SMG senior vice president of stadiums and arenas Doug Thornton, NFL vice president of business operations Eric Grubman and Entergy president and CEO Charles Rice, who were all continuing to investigate the outage. There were still no firm answers about the cause of the outage, but Beyonce’s halftime show, which was powered by an independent generator, was ruled out.

“The most important thing is to make sure that people understand it was a fantastic week here,” Goodell said. “This will not affect the people’s view in the NFL about the success of the game here in New Orleans. We know that they have an interest in future Super Bowls, and we look forward to evaluating that going forward. I do not think this will have any impact at all on what I think will be remembered as one of the great Super Bowl weeks. And again, we thank the people of New Orleans for that.”

Nice touch

New Orleans mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu staffed workers to hand out Super Bowl XLVII pins to everyone who walked through Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport yesterday. The pins also came with a postcard and thank-you note from Landrieu, who expressed his gratitude to those who visited the city and invited everyone to return. ___

Flacco in prime position to make Ravens pay

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