AUDUBON, N.J. – Like father, like son.
The apple does not fall far from the tree.
Clichés like these fit perfectly for Stephen and Joe Flacco. Stephen, a football and baseball player at the University of Pennsylvania from 1979-83, basked in glory after his son was chosen No. 18 in this weekend’s NFL Draft.
While Karen, Joe’s mother, was busy running around preparing her house to host what seemed like hundreds of people this past Saturday, Joe went on doing his normal, daily activities.
I went out and got some breakfast at the diner, Joe said. “After that, I wanted to see if my mom wanted me to do anything for her. I hung out and tried to kill time for a couple of hours.”
Karen said she was almost shocked when Joe asked her if she needed help preparing for the draft party.
[Saturday] was an above-normal day, she said. “Usually it’s like, ‘Mom, when are you making me breakfast?’ “
According to Joe, the lead up to the draft did not take a toll on him in terms of getting a good night’s rest, but the same cannot be said for his mother.
All week I was really, really nervous, Karen said. “I had a couple of nights I woke up at four in the morning and couldn’t get back to sleep – so many thoughts running through your mind. [Saturday] I woke up, started getting ready and a calm kind of came over me.”
Her house situated on a quiet street in Audubon was far from calm, with the commotion starting early in the morning. Initially, a press conference was planned at Haviland Avenue Elementary School but an electrical fire had fire fighters rushing up the road, blocking the street in order to subdue the problem.
Once that was controlled, the excitement and chaos moved a few doors down to the Flacco residence. The Baltimore Ravens traded their No. 8 pick to Jacksonville and moved to No. 26, but when the Houston Texans were on the clock at 18 at approximately 5 p.m., Baltimore moved up and selected Joe.
Not many saw it coming.
I’ll tell you, Stephen said. “It made the party better because of the way it happened. All of a sudden, bang.”
One of those surprised at the party was Joe’s cousin, David Madden.
I never pictured anyone in my family in the NFL, Madden, 17, said. “Happiest day of my life.”
Despite his utter excitement, Madden realized he was missing something that Saturday – his cousin’s cell number.
It’s something I’m ashamed of, Madden said.
As Stephen and Karen raised six kids, they did not like football’s time commitment for their five boys at an early age, giving them an NBA-like minimum age limit of the sixth grade to be able to play. Joe started playing Little League baseball and eventually got into organized Pop Warner in seventh grade, even though his town does not have a program.
Stephen said his son stood at 6-foot-4-inches as a high school sophomore and during his senior year, totally focused on football.
Prior to this weekend’s draft, it was reported that the Flacco family did not want any ESPN cameras or Sports Illustrated reporters in their house, but they changed their minds after receiving a simple phone call.
Chris Mortensen called from ESPN on Sunday night and Joe was talking to him and was like, ‘Dad, I can’t say no to Chris Mortensen. You try,’ Karen said.
Stephen and Karen could not deny the request. Karen said when Joe was at an EA Sports “Madden 09″ party on Friday meeting Brett Favre (the game’s cover athlete), other media outlets got wind that ESPN was allowed in the house.
ESPN, NFL Films and all you guys made the party better for everybody else, Stephen said regarding the media presence at his house.
NFL Films taped Joe at the EA sports party talking to Favre, at his house on draft day and will follow Joe to mini camp in a few weeks, compiling footage to use for “Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL.” The Flacco family is big fans of the company’s bloopers and greatest quarterbacks films.
We got them all, Stephen said. “If [Joe] stays around as long as we’d like to see him, he’ll probably be on both.”
The fit in Baltimore will be good not only for Joe, Stephen said, but also his son’s fans.
We never thought he was going to be that close, Stephen said. “It’s kind of a nice added bonus. The main thing is they wanted him there. For us, that’s the big thing.
We couldn’t have asked for anything more. Plus, he’s got kind of a homegrown fan base from being at Delaware.
Karen said two of her other sons will be playing football at Audubon High School, so she can watch them on Saturdays and take trips to Baltimore to watch Joe on Sundays.
Even though Joe is an NFL player and will soon live in Maryland, Karen and Stephen laughed at the fact that their son will still keep his old tendencies he had while at Pittsburgh and Delaware.
Mom will still be doing his laundry, Stephen said.