Flacco Banners Vandalized In Denver (Video)
Confession: I was born and raised just outside of Denver, Co.,and grew up a Broncos fan.
I still have deep roots there, with plenty of friends and family in the area. Some of us would watch John Elway and the Broncos together every Sunday.
Yesterday afternoon my email inbox started blowing up from old friends that are still die-hard Broncos fans.
"You better tell your peeps to stop vandalizing our stadium and city! Unacceptable!" one former schoolmate wrote on my Facebook page.
My "peeps" stop "vandalizing" the city? Huh?
Then I saw the link and picture he shared from The Denver Post.
The photo captures a ginormous banner of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco hanging from Sports Authority Field at Mile High. There is similar signage throughout downtown Denver.
That's because the league promotes both teams for its annual Kickoff Game, which is traditionally held in the reigning Super Bowl champs' city. But a conflict with an already-scheduled Orioles game required a location change.
"Who in Denver wants to drive to work in the morning and see a reminder of Joe Flacco?" asked The Denver Post's Mike Klis. "I know it's a unique situation where the defending Super Bowl champ opens on the road. But no circumstance will change the fact Denver belongs to the Broncos."
Angry Broncos fans came out of the woodwork. One using the handle "Broncos Nation" even started a petition on Change.org, calling for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to remove the Flacco banners.
I can't say I can blame Broncos fans for being unhappy, and that's not just because I know them.
After all, it was Flacco who killed their Super Bowl hopes with the "Mile High Miracle." No Ravens fan would've liked seeing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's face plastered all over Baltimore and M&T Bank Stadium to start the 2012 season – just a few short months after the heartbreaking AFC Championship defeat to New England.
That said, it's not the Ravens' fault the league is hanging purple and black signage in Denver. Not even the Broncos franchise could prevent it, as was explained in a team statement issued to Denver fans via Twitter.
"If you see large posters of not only Peyton Manning, but also Joe Flacco, blame the league," Klis wrote. "If Ravens signage creates a graffiti disturbance around downtown Denver, blame the league."
Oh, it certainly caused a "graffiti disturbance."
Vic Lombardi, a local Denver sportscaster, posted a series of Tout.com videos of himself vandalizing Flacco banners. He put white tape over Flacco's face on several street posters and wrote various lines on top, including "Not in our house!" "Not in my city!" and "We don't need no stink in' Flacco!"
"The militia has organized in downtown Denver," he said. "We're on the mall here to remove these filthy poster-banner-deals as quickly as we possibly can. You have five minutes to get here."
In the video below (mobile users tap the "View In Browser" button at the top of the page), Lombardi was being encouraged by others off camera who were chanting, "Take it down! Take it down!" as he used black marker to color over Flacco's teeth and mouth.
If the Broncos weren't seeking revenge for the playoff loss before, they certainly are now – eight days before the scheduled rematch. To fuel the fire, the league provided the bulletin board material, literally.
"I assume it has something to do with the Ravens not being able to play at home, which I don't even understand how that didn't happen," quarterback Peyton Manning told Broncos Radio. "Obviously the Ravens and the Orioles don't have a great relationship down there in Baltimore, but it doesn't seem like it makes a lot of sense that the Denver Broncos have to have an opposing player on their stadium.
"I hope fans are fired up."
"Hated Rival Is All Over 16th Street Mall"
Case For/Against Bubble WRs
It's unclear exactly how many wide receivers the Ravens will keep on the roster this season, but WNST's Luke Jones believes all remaining eight could conceivably make it through the final cuts if coaches determine they contribute enough on offensive and special teams.
"Eight receivers would certainly be a stretch, but it's not difficult envisioning scenarios in which seven wideouts crack the 53-man roster without too much trouble," wrote Jones.
In the likely scenario that all eight don't make it, Jones makes a case for and against each of the five bubble receivers:
Tandon Doss, 2011 4th-round pick
For: healthy option behind Stokley, has practiced well over last three years, Ravens don't give up easily on high draft picks
Against: underwhelming preseason, rookies outperformed him in games with fewer opportunities, limited special teams contributions
Marlon Brown, 2013 undrafted free agentFor: *stood out more than other young WRs with limited opportunities with first-team offense, can't teach 6-foot-5 height, red-zone potential, solid routes, consistent hands, Ravens would have a hard time sneaking him through waivers after standout nationally-televised performance
*Against: *it was only one preseason game, didn't live up to expectations at Georgia, potential rookie wall*
Aaron Mellette, 2013 7th-round pickFor: very productive at the FCS level, two touchdown catches in first two preseason games, Ravens don't like to cut draft picks, consistent hands, improved route running
Against: *didn't standout while playing with starters against Carolina, pushed back on short route, unimpressive special teams contributions
LaQuan Williams, 2011 undrafted free agentFor: *best special teams player of bubble wide receivers, hard worker, flashes at receiver
*Against: *lack of consistency, speed and size, can be replaced on special teams
Deonte Thompson, 2012 undrafted free agent*For: *fastest of the group, speedy option in the slot when healthy, contributes in return game and coverage units on special teams, performed well in practice prior to injury
*Against: *has college reputation as an inconsistent pass catcher, injury makes him a tough sell over preseason standouts, injured foot could make him a candidate for injured reserve
Thompson Not Ruled Out
While putting Thompson on injured reserve would certainly help make roster decisions at wide receiver easier, that may not be the direction the Ravens are going.
The team has yet to give an update on Thompson's sprained foot, but The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson is reporting that his foot is improving.
The speedy receiver may miss the final preseason game, but he has not been ruled out for the season opener in Denver.
Center Battle Ongoing
After center A.Q. Shipley's rocky performance in his start against the Falcons (flagged twice for 20 yards), the popular consensus is that Gino Gradkowski has got the starting role nearly locked up.
But as Carroll County Times' Matt Zenitz pointed out, the competition is still ongoing.
"It's still a very, very competitive situation," Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell said Monday. "Obviously nothing's been determined at this point, so it's still a battle going on. … It's a real tight race."
Shipley told Wilson that the Ravens haven't told him anything yet about the decision on who will start Week 1.
Remember Uproar About Flacco's (In)ability To Audible?
One Super Bowl audible has helped change the perception.
It was BaltimoreRavens.com No. 5 play of the 2012 season: Flacco's gutsy audible on an all-important third-and-1 in the fourth quarter. Flacco optioned out of a Ray Rice run to a quick pass to Anquan Boldin.
"Remember when we used to scrutinize Joe Flacco's (in)ability to audible?" wrote The Sun's Matt Vensel. "That's no longer the case."
He added: "Now, as he enters his sixth season, the Ravens fully trust Flacco to make the necessary changes at the line of scrimmage, an intangible quality of his that doesn't translate to the box scores. It may not have happened as quickly as he would have liked, but Flacco's pre-snap responsibilities have increased significantly since he entered the league."
Jacoby Most Dynamic Special Teams Player In NFL
Part of the receiver debate hinges on whether the Ravens should make Jacoby Jones the No. 2 or 3 receiver.
If he's the No. 2 receiver, that could mean fewer returns on special teams, which may not be a good idea considering that Jones is the "most dynamic" special teams players in the league, according to ESPN's Gary Horton.
"His explosive big plays always seemed to come at the right time in 2012," Horton wrote of Jones in his top 10 rankings of special teams players. "Jones averaged 30.7 yards per kickoff return and 9.2 yards per punt return with three [total return]* *touchdowns, including one in the Super Bowl. He has great speed and a burst that allows him to reach top speed quickly. He also plays for a head coach who puts a premium of having excellent players around him in the kicking game. Jones is also trying to claim the No. 2 wide receiver spot opposite Torrey Smith, so that could affect his return production in the season ahead."
Second-year kicker Justin Tucker also made the list at No. 9 after nailing 30-of-33 field-goal attempts last season, with four coming from beyond 50 yards.
"He shows tremendous confidence for a young guy and says he wants to have a 100 percent success rate on field goals in 2013," Horton wrote. "Tucker handles big-game pressure and poor weather conditions very well."
- In response to Mink's blog on Ravens players being unhappy about their Madden 25 ratings, the video game's Twitter account reached out …. @EAMaddenNFL: @ravens Thought we'd provide them some motivationthis season! [Twitter]
- @nfl: @HoustonTexans S Ed Reed channeled his inner-Ray Lewis during last week's pregame speech. WATCH [Twitter | HoustonTexans.com]
- @MarkZinno 105.7 The Fan]: Olympic gold medalist Michael [Phelps meets with @TeamFlacco and the rest of the #Ravens today after practice. [Twitter]
- @Ravens: DE Art Jones has been held out of practice this week because of personal health issues. Not serious, says John Harbaugh. [Twitter]
- @RavensCommunity: Ravens @TorreySmithWR will distribute 600 backpacks to pre-determined students at Port Covington Walmart Fri. Aug. 30th @ 5pm. #BackToSchool [Twitter]
- @TorreySmithWR: #RIPTEVIN miss my lil bro...make sure you tell your folks you love them [Twitter]
- Josh Bynes was a "disaster?" I don't remember it that way … @RobertKlemko: Really can't see the Ravens winning that division if Josh Bynes is going to play ILB. Was a disaster last season when he had to step in. [Twitter]
- gdowning14: This chart from @theMMQB of NFL player injuries from the preseason is telling [Twitter]