Joe Flacco smiled and laughed perhaps more than he ever has during a media press conference.
The Ravens' newly-minted quarterback was Joe Cool alright after signing a reported six-year, $120.6 million contract Monday afternoon.
Flacco has had detractors throughout his career, those who point to his stats as evidence that he isn't on par with other top-tier quarterbacks. The Ravens defense has, at times, been credited for his gaudy and historic win totals.
But now Flacco has two things that ring quite loudly for an NFL quarterback: a Super Bowl MVP title and a record-setting contract.* *He's got reason to be all smiles.
"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.
"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."
Flacco has long been respected within the Ravens facility walls.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome reflected on the time when the Ravens used to be looking for their version of a third-round Joe Montana or sixth-round Tom Brady at the NFL Scouting Combine.
"That all changed when we drafted Joe in 2008," Newsome said. "And now we've secured him for many more years. Joe's a Raven in his style of play, the way he works and prepares, and the way he lives his life. He's a significant reason we've been to the playoffs five years in a row, played in three AFC Championship games, and now, we are the Super Bowl champs with Joe as MVP."
Head Coach John Harbaugh said he was happy for Flacco, for his family and for Ravens fans.
"Joe is a tremendous competitor and highly motivated to be the best," Harbaugh said. "He's a leader for us and a great teammate. He understands that we have more to accomplish, and we intend to do that."
Even with that trust, the two sides could not come to an agreement last offseason because, as Flacco frankly said Monday, "I thought I was worth more."
Flacco, his agent Joe Linta and the Ravens put negotiations on hold for a year. Then Flacco had a historic postseason run with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions capped by hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. It was said that he had the most leverage of any player ever.
Flacco doesn't believe what makes him valuable is that he won the Super Bowl, however. He feels it's what he does on a consistent basis.
"If we didn't win the Super Bowl this year, I'd still think I'm worth the same and I still think I'd be the same person to this organization," Flacco said. "I think it makes it a little bit easier for Steve to reach into his pockets having said that we won the Super Bowl. People don't have to look at him as crazy as they may have if he would have given me this much last year."
Flacco believes he commanded so much money because that's just "the name of the game."
Last*year *New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was the NFL's highest-paid player with a $120 million deal that Flacco barely topped in terms of average salary per year. It's believed that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will likely top Flacco's deal next year.
"I feel like most of the quarterbacks that are going to re-sign are going to get this kind of money," Flacco said. "I felt like I was worth it, I was one of those guys. I didn't want to be sitting there with something that didn't say that. That's really what it was all about.
"A couple million dollars doesn't really make a difference. It's how everybody perceives it. I think that was a little bit important."