Fanfare perhaps dimmed, but no doubting Flacco as “Local Sportsperson of the Year”

December 31, 2013 | Glenn Clark

“At the Thanksgiving night game (in 2011) when the Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers — otherwise known as HarBowl I — Joe Flacco took the podium with a Fu Manchu mustache and the media questioned him about it and made fun of him. It was obvious to me that he, Dennis Pitta, Sam Koch and Morgan Cox were joining him in this silly mustache-growing “bonding” experience at the end of what is traditionally “Moe-vember” or “No-shave November.” They were serious about doing it and seeing it through the end of the season. I approached him and asked him if he’d want to attach a charity to it and, voila, we had a fundraiser built for Living Classrooms Foundation, our partner via the generosity of Brian Billick. (Little known fact: 5% of all WNST profits go to the Baltimore-based charity that helps young people all through the region gain life and job skills.) 

So, we did a quick video in the locker room in Cleveland the next weekend and Joe said he’d come out to do an event to raise more money in April 2012 and have dinner with a winner who grew an awesome Fu Manchu. Flacco came out that night and Glenn Clark asked that fateful question in Perry Hall: “Are you a Top 5 quarterback in the NFL?” And, of course, Flacco famously said he thought was the BEST quarterback in the NFL.
Nine months later, he was the Super Bowl MVP and we asked him if he’d do another event to raise some more money for Living Classrooms and once again he helped us raise $10,000 on a night in November for the Fells Point-based charity.
Having spoken with Flacco for many hours in researching “Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story” — I know how committed he is to the community and to charities. And for that, I personally salute his efforts, integrity and core generosity. Joe Flacco isn’t just a championship quarterback, he’s a championship person.
I’ve been around them all in Baltimore sports over the last 29 years and Joe Flacco is as fine a man as I’ve met in local sports and a compelling and “still in progress” athlete who is creating a legend in Baltimore.”

But yet it’s something even beyond on-field success and charity that made fans throughout Baltimore reach for their purple #5 jerseys throughout 2013. There’s something about Joe Flacco that’s so remarkably genuine and identifiable. Flacco was famously pictured celebrating his $120 million deal by going through a fast food drive-thru, taking an airport shuttle instead of arranging private transportation and even purchasing a lottery ticket at a convenience store in 2013.

He’s not Tom Brady. He’s not Peyton Manning. He may have a few more commercials these days than when he arrived in 2008, but he’s somehow remained a very honest reflection of who we are as a city.

With all of those things in mind, WNST is honored to recognize Joe Flacco as “Local Sportsperson of the Year” for 2013.

(Statement from the Baltimore Ravens in response: “Congratulations to WNST for selecting Joe Flacco as your ‘local sportsperson of the year.’ While it’s a local award, you’ve certainly selected a person with great national acclaim. Joe is the reigning most valuable player of the Super Bowl and, earlier this year, received the largest contract ever for an NFL quarterback – according to reporters. Joe remains humble and a tremendous team player. He continually shows his leadership on the Ravens and the toughness he showed during the 2013 season was impressive. With Joe’s help, the Ravens came within a game of earning the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.”)