A few years ago, reporters would slowly trickle away from the podium as Joe Flacco made his way to the microphone.
With big personalities like Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs often stealing the spotlight, the quarterback's media sessions were often an afterthought.
Much has changed over the last few years, and Flacco's press conferences are now the marquee media attractions of the week. When Flacco addressed the media Wednesday afternoon, he was surrounded by about a dozen cameras and reporters hurried to the podium to hear him instead of heading to the locker room.
"Every year you get more and more comfortable in that environment," Flacco said. "I honestly never even thought about it. I just go out there and do it and answer my questions the way I always do it. I'm just kind of like, 'OK, let's go do this and get it over with.' That's really still how I think about it."
Last year, Flacco was selected by the local press corps as the team's Media Good Guy, an award that goes to a player for being the most cooperative and candid with reporters.
He's been humorous and honest with the media. He often cracks jokes on himself and doesn't shy away from shouldering the blame after a mistake.
"I don't know how to be any other way. I have to tell the truth for the most part," Flacco said. "There are things up there that you just don't say, rather than lie. It's just too hard to sit up there and lie. It's just not in me to do that. I just try to be up there and be honest. Sometimes I won't give the most elaborate answers because I don't want to be somebody who is sitting up there and BS'ing. I want to give an honest answer."
Now in his seventh season, Flacco knows the media routine. He talks with reporters every Wednesday and also after every game. He's also often requested as the player on the conference call* *for the opposing team's media, and he meets with the broadcast crew during production meetings before every game.
"I don't know if I enjoy it more, but I probably don't dread it as much," he said with a smile. "There are definitely times where you're like, 'Man, can't I just not do it today?' And I think that probably happens less so these days."
Here are some of Flacco's best and most honest quotes from the season:
May 29: On criticism for not having an off-site offseason throwing session with his receivers:"The last problem that we're going to have is myself not knowing exactly what everybody is going to do on the field. That's never a concern."
Aug. 12: On starting a "Boring Quarterbacks Club" when asked by Dan Patrick in a radio interview:"I describe myself as being boring. I don't do a lot of stuff."
Aug. 19: On Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel flipping off the crowd:"I think we've all seen the middle finger before, and we should get over it."
Sept. 24: On getting the ball to Steve Smith Sr. against the Panthers:"If I pay attention to that maniac on Sunday, who knows how I'm going to play? He's going to want the ball – probably every single down – and if I don't get it to him, and I pay attention to how he reacts to that, then I'm going to be in trouble, and I'm going to feel bad, and then we're not going to play the way we should."
Oct. 22: On whether he says anything to the rookies to motivate them:
"I don't say anything to anybody, man. I'm not about getting them up and getting them going. These guys, they're ready. You kidding me?"
Nov. 2: On throwing a key interception against the Steelers:
"I lost my mind on that play and got everybody messed up."
Nov. 19: On his favorite quarterbacks to watch:
"All old-time guys that don't play anymore that I don't have to compete with."
Nov. 26: On whether he's a tough guy for never missing a game:"As a quarterback, are you really a tough guy? You don't have to do anything that necessarily [is tough]. I'm not out there tackling guys and sticking my head in there* *…You can't say that you're a quarterback and you're tough. You're a quarterback, you're not tough. I mean, you're a quarterback. I play quarterback for a reason. I probably wasn't tough enough to play those other positions, and that's just the bottom line."