The more things change, the more they stay the same. For Joe Flacco, this will be his thirteenth NFL season. In that span he’s gone from being a first-round pick, to a Super Bowl MVP, to taking on new challenges in new cities. But there’s something about Pennsylvania that just keeps him coming back for more.
After being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens and spending ten years there, Flacco took his talents to Denver in 2019 before a move back to the area in 2020 where he played for the New York Jets. A one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles not only keeps him in the area, but moves him even closer to the place where he grew up.
As a child, Joe Flacco could see the Eagles’ stadium from his house. He made his name in the collegiate ranks playing or the Delaware Blue Hens after transferring from Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania very much runs through the veins of the 36-year-old quarterback, so when an opportunity came to sign with the team whose stadium he grew up just a few miles away from, it was a no-brainier. Had there always been a hunch that he’d end up playing in Philly? Maybe, maybe not. But his sneaky smile when I asked that question at the very least cemented that this is the team he wants to be on right now.
In a conversation earlier today, the former Super Bowl MVP was all smiles. When asking about the possibility of returning to the grandest stage of all with the Eagles and completing what would be the ultimate fairytale circle of life, the grin was too hard to hide. But he tries not to think about it. For Flacco, the aim is simple – keep the Train moving for as long as possible.
I’m just trying to continue to survive and prove to people i can play at a high level and be a help for the team in any capacity. I want to keep playing this game and see where it takes me. I want to do as good as I can for as long as I can. It just so happens that this is the place and I’m definitely more excited about this place than i would be anywhere else. It’s another step in the road. I’m ready for it.
Being ‘ready for it’ is everything at this stage in his career. Entering a new QB room isn’t easy, but doing so with such a young group around him ascends him into an obvious role of leadership. There’s a weight of expectation on his shoulders from the fanbase at least, to mentor Jalen Hurts and help the second-year quarterback develop. The former Super Bowl MVP doesn’t feel it though. By this point, he’s seen just about everything there is to see in the NFL and has learned a lot along the way.
I’m excited about it. It’s a bunch of young guys. I’m the old guy…even the coaches are young for being coaches. I do feel a little older but I’m excited about it. Everyone thats in the position that they are has something to prove, be it the first time they’re doing something or whatever it may be. It’s exciting.
As he’s gotten older, preparations for the season ahead have changed. From nutrition and workouts to general wellbeing, the game may move slower the more you play it, but the opposing players don’t and those hits sting just as hard. Luckily for Joe Flacco, he’s been surrounded by some of the best to ever do it during his NFL career and is able to lean on what he learned as a younger player, appreciating a side of the game he perhaps overlooked at first.
You learn more and more every year. I remember when it as young watching Ed Reed and Ray Lewis and the things they did to take care of their bodies and I don’t think i really understood it back then. As I’ve gotten a bit older, i start to understand what they were going through and how important it is to do all those things. You just kind of evolve but at the same time you do it on your terms. I would say for me its just a smarter way of attacking things to prepare to play a full season.
Preparing to play a full season is one thing, doing so in Philadelphia is a different challenge entirely. The fanbase has witnessed a downfall like no other and emotions, as well-known, are raw. The fans in Philadelphia aren’t afraid to let their opinions be heard and their voices fill the air to a point it becomes a deafening blow for a team going through some adversity. Flacco is no stranger to those who wear their hearts on their sleeves though, and laughed gently when discussing the opportunity to play in front of such a passionate crowd…and one he knows all too well.
I don’t know if you ever get used to it but you have to be able to deal with it. Whether you believe they’re right or wrong, they’re what makes the game what it is. We go out and play and try to play the best we can, but if they didn’t fuel all of their emotions towards their televisions, we wouldn’t be here. That passion comes out in different ways and you have to accept that.
It’s not like Joe Flacco is a stranger to Eagles fans. Sure, he grew up in the area, but he’s also experienced them on game day. In 2016, his Ravens eked out a nail-biter at home thanks to a failed two-point conversion from Carson Wentz and company. In 2012, he travelled to the City of Brotherly Love and felt the wrath of those in attendance as the Ravens ironically lost a nail-biter. As a rookie, he was able to lift his team to a win at home.
It was always an exciting game to play Philly, whether we played the at the Linc or in Baltimore. It was always an extra incentive because my buddies all grew up Eagles fans. I’m sure they paid closer attention to it as well.
Flacco has a lot of respect for the people of Philadelphia and has wasted little time in not only getting settled, but looking to improve the quality of life for the communities surrounding his hometown. He recently teamed up with construction technology company Nexii to open the first ever green building plant in Pennsylvania, generating upwards of 200 jobs in the Hazelton area. The plant will produce a sustainable concrete alternative in buildings that produce less than 50% of the climate pollutions of regular sites.
It’s awesome that doing what I do I get to meet so many different people and be presented with an opportunity like this. I’m super excited about it, I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of it and I’m looking forward to what its going to do for this area. It’s something to be proud about and know we had a part in making that happen.
I definitely am excited about being able to be a part of that. Everybody can probably say this but people from our area are prideful and they like to stay and raise generations in this area. It’s a unique area. They’re prideful for a good reason. They were a big part in developing the country during the coal revolution and it’s a better step forward in the next generation of things they can feel that way about.
Being around a company like this, you never know where it might lead and what it might do for the area.
His love for the area is unquestionable, as is his determination. When choosing a new team to sign with, there has to be a fire that goes off. A spark inside that lets you know this is the right decision. Believe it or not, Nick Sirianni’s energy has helped provide exactly that.
The first thing I saw from him throughout the first week was how well he knows football and how much he likes to teach the game. He does a great job of communicating of how things are supposed to be done. From that comes the excitement. The Head Coach of a football team is different from every other coach. He’s the face of the franchise, he has to bring that show he’s ready, that he’s capable and he’s doing all of those things.
With the flame still burning and a firm belief that he’ll play a key role for the Eagles this season, the keys are in the hands of Joe Flacco to drive his own destiny. He’s not phased by competition, but aware of his stature, experience, and influence on what is an incredibly young team.
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding Flacco and his approach to mentoring young quarterbacks after his previous stints. His opening press conference brought with it an assertive statement that he’s here to win games, which many took as dismissing what many fans would like to see as a happy to be there ‘yes man’ who will prioritize the development of Jalen Hurts. But that’s not who Flacco is, and it’s not who Nick Sirianni wants him to be.
The Eagles Head Coach has done nothing but emphasize competition all offseason long. There are no handouts here. Whoever the starting QB is come week one, will have earned the right to lead the team out fair and square…and the signing of Joe Flacco embodies that notion. He’s a player who isn’t simply going to lie down and roll over, but fight to claim that role for his own and show his new team that he belongs.
I’m a new guy on the team and the most important thing is showing people i can play this game. I’m not just some guy because a team needed someone. My first thing is wanting to prove my worth.
This is undoubtedly going to be an exciting Summer and a big year for Joe Flacco, and it’s easy to look at the signing at face value and bring the conversation back to Jalen Hurts. Doing so removes everything that makes him so important to this team. His work ethic and the competition that will bring, his desire to not only remain close to home, but to help improve the quality of life for those around the area, and a 12-year background to draw from when it comes to helping what is ultimately one of the NFL’s youngest teams take their first steps to help usher in a new era of Football.
To put it simply, you couldn’t ask for a better quarterback to have around.
Photo Credits: Icon Sportswire