QB Joe Flacco
On if Flacco personally spent any time at the negotiating table during the process:"No. We were talking about it, and it seemed to be moving along pretty quickly. There was a point where I told him [agent Joe Linta], 'All right, I'm getting a little anxious here. Let's try to get this thing wrapped up.' I guess the closer you really feel like you are to the thing, that's when you actually start to think about it a little bit."
On if his contract and the status that comes with it has sunk in yet:"I don't know. It's pretty uneventful, to tell you the truth. My rookie contract, I think I signed like 10 different contracts, and this one, you didn't have to do all that. So, it has definitely not sunk in, but it's not really a big deal. Our goal is to win the Super Bowl. That's always been one of my goals. It's never necessarily been a goal of mine to get paid like this. It's just kind of what comes with the job."
On what goes through his mind when he looks at the amount of money on his contract:"Nothing. Usually a smile ends up cracking on the other end, but I don't really know what goes through [my mind] to get me to that point." (laughter)
On what it means to him that the Ravens thought he was worth being the highest-paid player in NFL history:"It means a lot. It was never necessarily about the money and all that, but it was definitely about earning that respect and feeling like I was respected around here. The fact that we got it done and that they have made me that definitely makes me feel good about how I've played and how they feel about me."
On if there is any more pressure on him now with the contract:"I guess so, if you are looking at it from your guys' view. But, us as players and myself, you don't really feel that, I don't think. When you are going out there and when you're on the field, you have confidence in what you're doing, and you're just trying to execute the plays. The last thing you're worried about is what you're getting paid. I think last year was probably more pressure than already getting to this point. I think now it's all about getting the team back and getting them healthy and getting to where we can put that work in and get back to where we were this year."
On what his teammates have said to him about his new contract:"I got a bunch of texts from a bunch of guys all congratulating me. Guys were pretty pumped up about it. So, it's pretty cool to just see how people have reacted and all my teammates have reacted. It's been good."
On if RB Ray Rice has told him that dinner is on Flacco:"He keeps wanting to try to get the car that I won for the MVP [of the Super Bowl]. He keeps trying to buy it off me. Maybe if I can sell it to him for like way over the price that it actually is, then [he] can get it. [There have been] a couple of funny things: Vonta [Leach] texted me. All he was concerned about was what kind of Christmas gift he was going to get and how big it's going to be. It's funny some of the things the guys think about, especially the running backs. Those guys are definitely always thinking about themselves and what kind of good gifts and cars and all that stuff they can get." (laughter)
On if he is going to do anything fun with the money:"I doubt it. I wish. Nothing immediately. *(Reporter: What's your wife going to do with the money?") *Hopefully not much. *(laughing) *I'm just going to look at it, and like I said, be able to smile a little bit. Like I said, it's not one of those things that you really think about on a daily basis. I definitely have the freedom to do some things that I otherwise wouldn't, but I don't have any immediate plans."
On how the contract was structured and how it helps the team:"I don't know too much about the details. I know that it's going to be less on the cap than an exclusive or non-exclusive franchise [tag] would be – that's all I know. I know we have a lot of good players on the team. I know I love to play with those guys, so hopefully it works out very good for the organization and we can keep as many people as we need. That's all I really know. I don't really know too much about how it was structured and what went into that and the talks that went into that."
On if being able to give the team flexibility against the salary cap was important to him:"Yeah, obviously when you are the quarterback, you aim to make a certain amount of money just really based off what the value is for quarterbacks out there these days. I don't think that was ever an issue, but once we got to the point where it was structured somewhat here, somewhat there, you are happy with it. It's not really about the money, it's just about that respect. It's like what I talked about earlier. So, when you get to a point that you're happy with, then it's all about saying, 'All right, I'm good. Now let's take care of the rest of the guys.' Getting it done by this date [will] obviously – I would hope so – help us out a little on the football field. That definitely was a little bit of an importance of mine."
On why he didn't sign a contract last summer:"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. It wasn't like I was going to make any different salary last year than I was making already. I might have gotten some up-front money, but once I signed that deal, if I had played that deal out, then I was going to get the same amount last year that I got anyway. 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."
On what it says about the players from small colleges like Delaware about making it to the top:"Good athletes come from everywhere. There are guys out there sitting on the streets that never got a chance to play at the Division I level, and maybe they stayed there and didn't get a chance to play or maybe they are at a Division IAA school and never got really looked at. Guys come out of high school as, really, children, and sometimes they can just mature so much in that four years in school, but never really get a chance. There are so many different circumstances. The bottom line is you have to be a good player, and you have to put a lot of hard work in. I think if you're willing to do that, and you do have the talent, then it doesn't matter where you come from. I think most of the time, an NFL team, or whatever sport it is, they'll see you. There are times where they won't, but most of the time they'll see you, and then it's just your job to come in here and do a good job from there."
On if this contract solidifies him as a "Raven for life":"I hope so. That's kind of the way you look at it. I love playing here. It's been an awesome five years. We've had a spectacular team. We have an amazing group of fans. It's close to where I grew up. It's great for my family. There are a lot of really, really good benefits for playing for this organization. You can't say them all, but that's the plan, and I can't see it happening any other way."
On if he feels an added sense of responsibility with his new contract: "I think it's just like when you talk about playoffs versus regular season. I think if you start to try to do too much, you're going to be the one that falters and makes mistakes. There's a reason that I'm standing up here at this point. It's because what I've done so far has been the right thing. I think it'd be a bad move to do anything else. I'm going to be who I am, and I'm going to continue to get better every year and continue to get my guys better around me. But other than those things, other than continuing to push my teammates and myself, you are going to do everything the same."
On how important it is to him to be here during the offseason workouts: "It's always good to come back here and work with your teammates. Like I said, start to push them to get that motivation to getting back to where we were last year. As much as people might want to sit at home all offseason, it gets pretty boring after about a month. It's good to be around your guys and just have that locker room camaraderie and get out there and run a couple of routes and get everybody going. And like I said, get that motivation for getting back here next year. That felt really, really good to hold that trophy up, and we are going to have to work hard to get back to that point. But, we all know how good it tastes. We just have to get revved back up and go after it again."
On why some teams have a Super Bowl hangover and how he will avoid that:"Listen, I think how you avoid it is you just get back in here and you try to forget about it as much as you can. There are definitely things that happened after you win the game that pull on you and wear on you. You can see how some teams do maybe take a year to kind of get back into the swing of things and get that motivation back. But, as the leader of the team and as the quarterback, you have to make sure you get your guys in and get them ready to go, because every year is a new year. We are going to be looked at differently next year than we were last year. Really right now, definitely as soon as the season starts, winning that Super Bowl meant nothing. We are going to have a bunch of new guys on the team and a bunch of guys that are going to want to feel what that feels like. It should be an exciting time, and I think the fact that we've done it, I think it maybe takes a little pressure – a little weight off of our shoulders, and hopefully, it will allow us to go out there and maybe play a little bit more loose than we have in the past. Hopefully, it'll benefit us."
On a switch being flipped after the Giants game after a change in the offensive coordinator, and if some things may change offensively moving forward: "I think you saw a little bit of what we are about in that playoff run, and I think we are going to continue to grow on that. There are a lot of things that happened late in the season that if they hadn't of happened, we probably wouldn't have won the Super Bowl. But, they did. I've always said that there's definitely a little bit of luck involved in winning the thing. It's about the team that gets hot at the right time. I don't know if we were hot going into the playoffs, but we had played a good game against the Giants. We were able to rest our guys in the Cincinnati game. We started [against] Indy pretty decent, and we kind of got revved up, and just never looked back. It was about that team getting hot at the right time, and that's what won it for us. We had a bunch of good players get healthy, bunch of good players play for us. That's definitely part of it. I think looking forward in the future, I think some of those injuries helped guys get rest. Those are the things that we are going to have to think about in the future. How do we get some of these guys rest during a 16-game season, so that when playoff times comes, they are going to be able to be as productive as they were for us? Some of the guys that we have – some of the veterans that we have – I think that will be a big part next year is just getting some of those guys rest during the season. A part of that is winning a lot of games early on in the season, so like the Cincinnati game, we can get those guys rest and get them ready to go for a four-game or three-game dogfight."
On his confidence in getting WR Anquan Boldin back because of his deal being cap friendly: "Yes, I guess so. Like I said, I don't know too much about it. That's for [general manager/executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] and all those guys to decide. I'll tell you what: Anquan [Boldin] was a beast in those four [playoff] games. It was awesome to have him out there. You guys saw some of the catches that he made – none more important than the third down against San Francisco. He's been a big part of this offense. He's a big part of why I'm standing here today talking to you guys. [The new contract] definitely increases my confidence that we'll have him back, and I hope we do."
On if there was any difficulty in taking a risk and not signing in the 2012 offseason: "No. I guess it's seen as a big risk. The real risk is that I could get hurt. I always kind of had faith that we were going to get something done here no matter what. I didn't know if we were going to go win the Super Bowl and all of that, so that kind of helped the situation out, I think, a little bit. (laughter) Listen, winning the Super Bowl, winning the Super Bowl MVP doesn't make me as valuable as I am. I think I bring to the table what I bring to the table. I think I'm a valuable … I think I'm an asset to this team, and I'm worth what I'm worth. The fact that we won the Super Bowl just comes with that. If we didn't win the Super Bowl this year, I still think I'm worth the same, and I still think I'm the same person to this organization. It may not be seen that way, but that's the bottom line. I still think I give the team the best chance to win moving forward – whether we won or lost this year. I think it makes it a little bit easier for [owner] Steve [Bisciotti] to reach into his pockets having said that we won the Super Bowl. (laughter) People don't have to look at him as crazy as they may have if he would have given me this much last year. That was my feeling all along. When guys that are drafted in the first round, when guys that win football games for you, quarterbacks like that, when the time comes up for those guys to get paid, they usually become the highest paid guy in the league. I'm sure in a couple of months from now, someone is going to sign a deal, and you guys are going to be talking to them about how they are the highest paid guy in NFL history. That's just the name of the game. I know that this isn't going to hold up for that long, but that's not a priority of mine to be the highest-paid guy. The priority of mine was to get that respect that I felt, that I feel now from this organization."
On if he did anything to celebrate the deal: "Not yet. (laughing) I'm going to drive home tonight and just go to dinner with a couple of people close to me. I was actually in … [Team president] Dick Cass said it was the most unlikely group of people to go to Vegas ever. It was me, Todd Heap and Dennis Pitta. We hung out in Vegas this past weekend. I was hoping that the deal would get done by that point, so we could maybe celebrate. That's a pretty good place to celebrate – pretty easy place to blow a lot of money. (laughter) That didn't get done, but we had a good time out there, kind of in anticipation to it. If nothing else, a little bit of a late celebration to the Super Bowl win. I'm not going to do anything crazy. That's about all the celebration that I can take is kind of going out and enjoying a nice little time with the people that are close to me, and just kind of looking at each other saying, 'Man, can you really believe where we are?' We've done that so many times over the past month – just looked at each other – my dad, my wife – and just shook our heads and laughed. Super Bowl champs. It doesn't get any better than that, and that's still kind of where we are with the whole thing."
On if he is interested in endorsement deals:"I don't know. If anybody can come up to me and give me deals that I don't really have to do anything for … (laughter) *Take a picture like this, get me a little bit of equity in the company, I'm cool with that. If the right things come along, obviously, but when you get a $120 million contract, you don't really need to be searching for too much money. *(laughter) If people are going to get me off my couch – it already takes a lot. It's going to take a little bit extra now."
On if he has given any thought to the fact that there could potentially be a fellow Delaware Blue Hen as his center next season with C/G Gino Gradkowski:"Yes. You know what? I just talked to Matt Birk on my way down here today. [It has been] unbelievable playing with him for the last four years. He's a special guy, and it was awesome to go out there and go on this run with him, alongside of many other guys on our team. And, I did think about it. I kind of asked him about Gino [Gradkowski], and when we hung up the phone I said, 'Man, it's going to be two Delaware guys.' That's going to be the possibility, and I think Gino is ready to take that job over. I think he has picked up the offense really well, and I think he's going to go out and show people he has the talent and he has the ability to go out there and do it in this league. It's definitely exciting that we can have that kind of connection."
On if he has spoken to his college coach at the University of Delaware since the Super Bowl victory:"I've talked to him just a little bit, yeah. [It's been] just through text, nothing really too much besides that. I'm planning on getting together with him, probably have some lunch in the next couple days."
On what the month after the Super Bowl has been like for him: "Like I said, it's kind of just business as usual. It's all a little bit more uneventful than you would think it is. The Super Bowl – winning that – you watch it on TV, and it's seen as such a big thing, such a big production. When you're there, it just feels like you're in another game. So, it makes the whole process very just unreal, kind of unbelievable. Just, like I said, it seems so big when you're watching it on TV. When you're there playing it, and you win it, it's like I don't know if I believe it. We earned it. I definitely do believe it, but it's just a weird feeling, it's tough to describe. But, it's definitely a great way to end a season, and hopefully, we can do it … What have I played, five years? Hopefully, we can do it 10 more times. That would be sweet. Then I don't have to listen to you guys in the offseason [talking] about how bad we were even though we made it to the AFC Championship game. (laughter) So yeah, it's just been great."
On if he has driven the Super Bowl MVP Corvette yet:"No, I haven't. I don't even have it yet. I've got to order it. I can order whatever I want, so I've got to make sure I get something pretty sweet. I can barely fit in it, but my wife's going to have a good time driving it around."
On what color RB Ray Rice likes:"What color does Ray [Rice] like? (laughing) I don't know what Ray likes, but I'm sure it's something not really along the lines of what I like. But, Ray isn't getting it anyway. He's got plenty of cars that he's paid a bunch of money for, so he's doing all right."
On if he has actually watched game tape of the Super Bowl yet:"I watched the coaches' tape, yeah. It was probably a week after the game. I finally had a little bit of time. I had to send my iPad back here, so I said, 'You know what? Before I do that, let me watch the game.'"
On how he graded out:"I grade out sweet in my mind every play. (laughter) Ask [offensive coordinator] Jim [Caldwell] how I did. He might tell you differently. I'm just kidding. It was a special game. We had a little lull in the second half, but I thought our guys came to play, from the very beginning. And that was a big part of that game – getting off to a good start. That's what we did, and we were able to finish pretty well, also."
On when preparations start for next season start:"I've talked to [offensive coordinator] Jim [Caldwell] a little bit. Obviously, he was the coordinator the last few weeks of the season, but with the offseason there's going to be some things that we talk about in terms of how we want to attack next year and how we want to verbalize things and all that. So, I've talked to him a little bit just to tell him a little bit about how I feel about how we've done things in the past, and we'll continue to meet on that stuff. But right now, it's really just kind of in the workout phase and getting your body healthy and all of that."
On if he was serious about running onto the field to tackle 49ers' WR Ted Ginn Jr. if he broke loose on the final play of the Super Bowl:"I saw that people were kind of getting a little mad at me for that. There was four seconds left in the game, and that was probably the only time all year that I was really, really nervous. (laughter) *I thought it was a pretty funny thing to kind of get my mind off of the fact that there is a possibility that he could run this thing back. I'm sure that if I did do that, I'm sure that they could probably give the guy a touchdown. I don't know. But it's the Super Bowl, man. I'm doing anything I can to win that game. *(laughter) But yeah, [I was] not really serious. They all looked at me like I was crazy. I told the linemen, and they kind of backed up for a second like, 'What are you talking about?' *(laughter) *But hey, it was just all in good fun, kind of to distract my mind a little bit."
On if he was in Las Vegas or New Jersey when news of the contract started to break on Friday:"I was hanging out at home. Every Friday night my family – my grandparents, my parents, my uncles and aunts – we all get together for pizza night at one of their houses. So, I was over at my uncle's house about five minutes from where I live, and that's when it all started breaking on TV. We were all kind of just sitting there chuckling about it." *(laughter)
On if he really found out about the deal on TV:"I talked to my agent, and he had let me know that he had talked to [the media] and kind of said what he said and thought we were pretty set."
On what the feeling is when he's sitting at the dinner table and telling his family that he's the highest-paid player in the league:"They said that to me. I was just kind of sitting there smiling, and my uncle kind of looked at me and said exactly what you just did, 'What's it feel like? Can you believe it?' And like I said, you look around, and that was never one of my goals, honestly. It's pretty sweet that that's what the fact is, but it's just better to be where we are as a team right now, and hopefully get the guys back and get them ready to go and make another run. It's all about winning in this league, and that's the stuff that just comes along with it. So, the winning part definitely feels better. This hasn't necessarily sunk in yet."