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INDIANAPOLIS – The answer sounds like it would come from an NFL quarterback with more than 180 career starts, plus 16 more in the postseason and is actually older than his new head coach.

NFL life often labels a veteran backup quarterback, behind the young and budding starting signal caller, as one needed to help mentor that guy in front of him.

Joe Flacco gets where that comes from.

But he also thinks there’s much more to his role than simply being in Indy for tutelage and guidance to Richardson, who is 18 years younger than the man now backing him up.

“It’s just one of those questions that you guys are going to nail me for either way,” Flacco began, on the day he came to Indianapolis to ink his one-year deal with the Colts. “It’s like, I really don’t believe that’s the job of a backup quarterback. I think that happens naturally as you become part of the team and like I said, you’re in that room and you are going to obviously do that. I’ve proven to be, I think as far as I’m concerned, a good teammate and I think that’s the most important. Those kind of things happen naturally. It’s not like you’re going to sit there and hold people’s hands and do different types of things.

“Listen, I’ve gotten in trouble in the past. That’s why this is such a touchy subject because you can write whatever you want about it. If you want to roast me, you can say, ‘Oh, Joe doesn’t want to be a mentor,’ and if you don’t want to then you can kind of put it in a different context. I don’t know if my mindset is any different on the fact. I think every quarterback in this league sees themselves as somebody that wants to be on the field and wants to play. I think that’s probably the best mindset to go in there and help somebody with because if I wasn’t interested in that in some way, then how engaged would I be in the meetings? How much would I be able to help him? I think when you constantly have to be of that thought process that I may be in there the next play, you completely engage yourself in every situation that you’re in. That’s also when questions arise or when you see something that you’ve been through before, you can put it in a very simple way. I think that’s one of the biggest things about playing quarterback and being able to survive in this league a long time is to be able to simplify things because at the end of the day, it’s just football. We can complicate this thing a lot, but the guys that go out there and play well – they’re playing fast because they’re either naturally doing it or they’re just kind of simplifying it to the point where they don’t have to worry about every tiny little thing and then they can’t process anything at all. I think I can bring a lot of that to the meeting room for sure. The end goal is to win a lot of football games here and I want to be a part of that in any way I can.”

For Chris Ballard and the Colts, having actual belief that Flacco can win them games, if need be, was the first priority in finding someone to replace the departing Gardner Minshew.

While Flacco proved last year in Cleveland he could still do that at the age of 38, that was no guarantee entering last season.

A 3-14 record as a starter in post-Baltimore life is a big reason why Flacco’s phone left ringless last offseason.

But chaos in Cleveland led to Flacco getting a shot, and he delivered big time.

Familiarity between Shane Steichen and Flacco is there, following a brief 2021 stint for the two in Philly.

“Shane’s great,” Flacco says. “I think he does some pretty cool stuff offensively and gives a quarterback a really good chance to play his best football. So, that’s probably the most exciting thing about being here with him.”

If you are looking for specific ways Flacco can help Richardson, the veteran mentions trying to point out ways where the offense can be simplified for the young QB.

“I think we all see what kind of athlete he is and what kind of arm he has and all those types of things,” Flacco says of Richardson. “That’s why I said earlier, for me being here, it’s teaching him how to simplify, play fast and use those tools as opposed to trying to process certain things that you don’t really need to worry about and you go out there and you’re not even able to use your skillset the way you want to. You kind of slow yourself down a little bit. I think we see the athlete he is, the arm he has and the talent that he has. So as long as he can utilize those skills and play in a fast and efficient manner, then I think the sky is the limit.”

A father of 5, Flacco will be bringing the family to Indy as he continues to keep the book opened on quite the NFL career.

The oldest Flacco child is 11 years old, with dad adamant that the kids are all about him still doing something that clearly gives him plenty of feels.

“Early in my career – I tell people this – you kind of look at guys that have been around a long time and you’re like, ‘Man, it must be nice being around for 10 years. They probably don’t even get nervous for games anymore,’” Flacco shares.

“It just never happens – this game always means a ton. Every time that you take that practice field you have a certain feeling. Every time that you go out there and play a game you have a certain feeling that you get. You just want to go play. You want to play the best you can and do it for yourself and do it for your teammates. It really never changes. I don’t care what you’ve accomplished or what you haven’t – you want to go out there and you want to do your best and you want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror at night and know that you did everything that you could to go out there and do the best you can – whether that’s practice or games. The fire still burns to go out there and be better than you were the day before, the year before or whatever it may be.”

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