Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco warms up before the AFC championship game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
(Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)
(USA TODAY) -- When Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco heaved a miraculous, 70-yard pass to tie the Denver Broncos with about a minute left in their divisional playoff game Jan. 12, it instantly renewed local interest in the former University of Delaware quarterback.
And when he finally vanquished four-time NFL MVP and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in double overtime, Flacco-mania went into full swing.
On Jan. 20, bars across the state - and especially in Newark - featured plenty of UD students and alumni wearing blue and gold as they rooted for Flacco as he beat another future Hall of Fame quarterback, the New England Patriots' Tom Brady.
With the sting of former UD quarterback Rich Gannon's disastrous 2003 performance in Super Bowl XXXVII - five interceptions, three of which were run back for touchdowns - still fresh 10 years later, local optimism for Flacco's chances is brimming.
The biggest game of Flacco's career is set for Super Bowl XLVII this Sunday and Delawareans are breaking out their UD shirts, hats, jerseys and hoodies instead of purple Ravens jerseys to show support for Delaware's other famous Joe.
For the AFC Championship Game, Rehoboth Beach's Jeff Warner traveled to Mother's Federal Hill Grille in Baltimore and donned his autographed Flacco Ravens jersey.
For the Super Bowl, he might stay local and watch at The Starboard's Shark Tank Pub in Dewey Beach wearing his Blue Hen polo shirt instead.
"At Mother's, there were a lot of Blue Hens there wearing UD stuff, but I wore the Ravens jersey because there's nothing better than when they win and all these girls are huggin' and kissin'," jokes Warner, a 45-year-old UD alumnus. "It will definitely be a feather in Delaware's cap if he wins this game."
Flacco, a little more than five years removed from his last UD game, still looms large on campus.
In the newly opened Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille on South Main Street, there are Flacco-signed University of Delaware jerseys hanging on the walls. A massive banner with his image drapes Delaware Stadium during the football season. And there's an expansive photo of him signing his Ravens contract in the main entrance to the UD football coaches offices.
Even so, there is no official UD event or Super Bowl party slated in support for the former Blue Hen. As school officials point out, it happens to fall on a pretty inconvenient Sunday: move-in day for spring semester, which starts Feb. 4.
Ryan Cormier, USA TODAY Sports