Whether you like Joe Flacco or think he's a fluke (I'm looking right at you, Skip Bayless), you should read the profile on the Super Bowl MVP in ESPN The Magazine. Kevin Van Valkenburg delivers a good read on how Flacco and the Ravens have evolved on the field, but Flacco remains the same off of it. You really get the feel for how Flacco felt restrained in a "play it safe" offense for many years.
The story appears in ESPN The Magazine's Sept. 2 NFL Preview, you can click right here to read the entire piece. Here are some selected quotes from Flacco in the article:
On not being an in-your-face type of a leader: "Look at Peyton [Manning]. He has guys on eggshells all the time. If they do the wrong thing, they're thinking, 'S---, he's going to kill me.' And that works for him. But at the same time, I think it's tough to play in that environment. Sure, if you're not consistently putting in the effort, that's when I'm going to call you out. But if you're putting in a full effort and you do something that costs us the game, what the f--- is yelling going to do? The game's over. Let's move on and get better."
On former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron: ""Our relationship was good, he was just a tough person to communicate with. When you don't feel like you can communicate at a great level, obviously there are going to be times when you see things differently."
On the philosophy of "playing it safe" on offense and letting the defense win games: "I don't think those guys would ever outwardly put it that way. But the overall sense of the program, there was a little bit of that. The defense felt like they had the kind of ability that they did in 2000, and that wasn't necessarily the truth. My point was: That's not going to give you the best odds of winning. You might be able to pull it off now and then, but I don't think they'd won more than one playoff game from the time they won the Super Bowl in 2000 to the time I got there. So we obviously needed to take another step."
And here's one from tight end Dennis Pitta on Flacco: "It takes a lot to get to know Joe. When you first meet him, you might think, Joe doesn't really like me, and he's kind of rude. But it's just because he's shy. He's not a very outgoing person."