Joe Flacco's press conferences used to be snoozers. Now they're must-see TV.
On Monday, it was announced that Flacco was named the Ravens 2013 Media Good Guy. The annual award is voted on by local media and given to the player who shows great accessibility, cooperation and candid interviews.
"That's pretty funny," Flacco said. "I never would have ever thought I would be in the running for that because I don't really give you guys anything I feel like."
Flacco used to be a shrinking violet in front of the media. He started probably 90 percent of his answers with "I don't know."
But the team's public relations staff has worked with him, and Flacco has become more comfortable in his own skin. When you're the franchise quarterback and you sign a $120 million deal, you become emboldened to say what you want.
Flacco has always been a person with strong opinions. Now he's just letting them loose. That's what I appreciate about Flacco. He's incredibly honest with the media (at least it appears).
He's not going to give away strategic information or injury news, but Flacco will, for the most part, give you his true opinions on topics.
The moment that jumps out this year is the wildcat debate. The Ravens used Tyrod Taylor in their game against the Jets in the hopes of generating some kind of ground attack. Flacco flat-out said he didn't like it and thought it was "high school" offense.
The media was floored. Flacco didn't blink an eye.
He's always been one to stand up to the heat when things aren't going well. He'll admit when he screws up and tell you what he was thinking. He fields an insane amount of interview requests and knocks them out. He's also willing to chat with a reporter sometimes outside of regulated media sessions when he could just blow them off.
Wearing Santa socks in front of the media on Tuesday afternoon, Flacco said getting the award is "definitely pretty cool."
Flacco won in a tight race over defensive end Chris Canty (nine votes) and strong safety James Ihedigbo (eight). In full disclosure, I voted for Canty. Reporters can get Canty, who wants to join the media one day, for an interview pretty much whenever they want about any topic. He's incredibly nice and smart.
The other award the media voted on was the Ravens' 2013 team MVP. I picked the winner on this one: kicker Justin Tucker. He dominated voting with 20 votes compared to second-place finisher inside linebacker Daryl Smith (10 votes).
It's incredibly rare for a kicker to be named the most important player, but that just speaks to how good Tucker has been this year.
He kicked all six field goals to win in Detroit, including the unforgettable 61-yarder. When the Ravens offense struggled to put the ball in the end zone during the team's critical four-game winning streak, Tucker mostly handled the scoring (15 field goals). His 33 straight successful field goals were an incredible streak, especially considering all the bad weather he kicked in.
"It's a cool deal to be recognized in that way by the local media," Tucker said. "At the same time, we're not all about individual accolades. While they're nice, we're about getting team wins and playing January football."
I regretfully let Tucker know that the honor comes with absolutely no tangible reward.
"Maybe they'll get me some Berger cookies," Tucker said.