Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco drops back to pass during a team… (Baltimore Sun photo by Karl…)
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco got up close with more than 200 fans and their heightened expectations Saturday at a local autograph session, signing everything from jerseys to football cards to even a wedding card.
Nearly every time he scribbled "Joe Flacco 5," someone brought up winning the Super Bowl — or, at the very least, going to it.
"They're all expecting us to do well this year, and that's a good thing," Flacco said after signing for every sunburned fan in line (which meant writing his name continually for more than an hour) at the AT&T store in Severn. "They should be excited. The excitement level is contagious."
Fans have enjoyed a lot of success with Flacco, who has already delivered two winning seasons and three playoff wins. Now, his followers are hungry for more after the offseason additions of wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Donte' Stallworth.
Flacco is equally excited about the Ravens, calling this year's team the best one in his three NFL seasons.
"We've got the talent to go as far as we want to," Flacco said. "It's about playing up to our capabilities. I think we've done that for the most part."
Even though training camp doesn't begin for a couple of weeks, Flacco has remained hard at work this summer.
He has thrown to Boldin twice during the off time, and he flew out to Arizona to train with tight end Todd Heap for four days. He is trying to schedule another workout with Boldin and Stallworth for Monday.
The hope is they'll be on the same page before defenses even open their playbooks for training camp.
"I think we have a bunch of guys who want to do well," Flacco said. "In order to do that, you have to work hard at it. We have the right guys to do it. I think we're headed in the right direction."
Judging by Saturday's turnout, the Ravens' fan base would certainly agree. Despite scorching temperatures in the mid-90s, the line of fans had snaked in front of the building an hour before Flacco arrived.
No one seemed to mind the wait after Flacco posed for pictures and autographed everything in front of him. One fan brought a wedding card for Flacco to sign so he could give it to a friend who was getting married that night.
Joseph Piazzola, 27, of Hanover was the first to line up, setting up his chair at 9:30 p.m. Friday. Holding two football cards, Piazzola was one of two people who stayed overnight in front of the store.
"I'm very motivated," Piazzola said, "and I would do this again."
The heat is on the Ravens to live up to projections, but no one is putting more pressure on the Ravens than themselves.
Derrick Mason recently said it would be a disappointment if the Ravens failed to reach the Super Bowl, and Flacco agreed with his wide receiver.
"We've definitely been disappointed the last couple of years," Flacco said, referring to losses in the AFC championship game after the 2008 season and the divisional round after the the 2009 season. "We know that feeling. If that happens again, we're going to be disappointed. I think the fans feel the same way and rightfully so.
"We want to get to the Super Bowl. We understand that we have a team to do so. We're going to do it one of these times. We just want it as soon as possible. We think it could be this year."