While he waits, endorsement money is trickling in. Flacco struck a promotional deal before the Super Bowl with Haribo, the maker of the Gold-Bear gummi candies whose U.S. operations are based in Baltimore. The company heard about Flacco's affinity for Haribo's chewy candies, and TBC, the candy maker's Baltimore-based advertising agency, put the pair together.
"He likes our product and he is a likable guy, for a lack of a better description," Haribo America President Christian Jegen said. "He likes the product. He has a family image that fits us."
Flacco's current sponsors are making the most of his newfound national prominence. Baltimore-based First Mariner Bancorp featured the quarterback on its website Monday and posted a message: "We think it's safe to say, he's not your average Joe -- perhaps your 'elite' Joe Flacco, or your Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco, but average, he is not."
While not average on the field, Flacco remains just that to advertisers, said Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert at San Francisco's Baker Street Advertising.
"He's certainly a safe pick," Dorfman said, referencing a story about Flacco's own father publicly calling him dull. "He's about as safe a pick as you can get who's not going to get in trouble, and is pretty white bread and does not have any scandals and is unlikely to have any scandals."
Flacco will be very marketable on the local level, Dorfman said, but he's facing much stiffer competition nationally.
There are the model-style looks of New England quarterback Tom Brady and the comedic and acting chops of Denver signal caller Peyton Manning. Then there's a slew of young run-and-gun quarterbacks such as Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and Flacco's Super Bowl opponent, Colin Kaepernick.
"He's a good-looking guy but nothing, again, terribly flashy that makes him stand out," Dorfman said.
In a soft economy, he said, advertisers do not want to take risks with individual athletes vulnerable to falls from grace. Stars like Lance Armstrong are coming clean about cheating, for instance, and one-time college inspirational story Manti Te'o is trying to explain a bizarre hoax.
Flacco, too, has bruised his own reputation recently by using the word "retarded" during a news conference and getting caught on TV cursing during Sunday's Super Bowl celebration, but Dorfman said the slip-ups shouldn't have much of an effect on his marketability.
Former Oriole catcher and coach Rick Dempsey knows a bit about saying the wrong thing.
In 2007, as an Orioles pregame and postgame show host, he made a comment about domestic violence during a segment in which a player's wife was trying to raise awareness and money for battered women. Dempsey, who said he was trying to make a joke, apologized after the controversy went national. Over the years, he said, he learned from his mistake.
"It's something you learn," Dempsey said. "When you're in front of the public, everyone's going to make some mistakes. But you have to be very cautious of the fact that not everyone thinks the way you do."
Dempsey, the 1983 World Series MVP, can relate to being in a peak marketing position like Flacco, and he has some advice for the quarterback: "Be as accommodating as possible is the best advice I could give him because his playing days will be over before he knows it."
While Kleine, Flacco's marketing agent, is adamant that his client isn't looking to grab the spotlight, Dempsey said that's exactly what he should do.
Accept every charity engagement. Sign every kid's autograph. Be personable with reporters.
"Now is what you have to do to lay the foundation for when your playing days are over. Now is when people find out you're personable," he said. "Every night I signed every freaking autograph until everyone was gone in the parking lot. I never drove through the crowd without signing autographs. That one little guy who wanted my autograph? I couldn't turn my back on him."
Those "little people," he said, grow up to become CEOs, developers and elected officials.
"Those are the same people who are bringing their grandchildren to the ballpark now and are asking me to do speaking engagements for their companies."
Dempsey, 63, has turned to a second career that includes ownership of two restaurants, broadcasting and analyst jobs, an online tie sales and design company, and real estate ventures. Dempsey said he is studying to get his real estate license to work on development projects with partners he met through public relations engagements.
For Flacco, he said, this is the time to strike.
"He's been to the finish line now," Dempsey said. "He's been an MVP. This is going to be with him for the rest of his life. Don't turn your back on people."
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