NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Working on 90 minutes of sleep, Joe Flacco wore a day-old beard and a weary smile that wouldn't go away.
Super Bowl tradition deems that the game's MVP appear at a ceremony the following morning to shake hands with the commissioner of the NFL, accept the shiny trophy, pose for pictures and receive the keys to a new car. And so, after celebrating the Baltimore Ravens' 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers into the early hours of Monday morning, Flacco dutifully fulfilled his obligation.
The quarterback's immediate reward for throwing three touchdown passes on Sunday night was a 2014 Corvette. In the months ahead, Flacco is almost assured of receiving a lucrative, long-term contract befitting his incredible performance during Baltimore's run to the NFL championship.
In the playoffs, Flacco had 11 TD passes and no interceptions, a feat NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called "extraordinary."
"He was unflappable and brought his team to a Super Bowl level," Goodell said. "His play represented that all the way through."
Less than 12 hours after hoisting the Lombardi Trophy over his head amid a shower of purple confetti, Flacco still couldn't come to grips with what he and the Ravens had accomplished.
After throwing for three scores in the first half to stake the Ravens to a 21-6 lead, Flacco directed two scoring drives in the fourth quarter to help fend off a 49ers comeback. He was 22 for 33 for 287 yards.
"I'm pretty tired right now, and it hasn't sunken in," he said. "It's just a surreal moment."
With a parade scheduled for the team on Tuesday, Flacco planned to visit Disney World in Florida on Monday afternoon before heading home.
"I anticipate not getting very much sleep, but it's for all good reasons, man," he said. "Unbelievable game. It was just awesome to be a part of it."
After the game, Flacco shared a little secret with the rest of his family: He and his wife are expecting their second child. After the Ravens played San Francisco last season, he revealed their first child (a boy) was on the way.
Flacco almost assuredly has a big payday upcoming as well. His rookie contract ends after this season, and soon he and owner Steve Bisciotti will sit down to determine just how much a Super Bowl title will be worth. He could wind up with one of the biggest deals in NFL history, perhaps commanding somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million a year.
"I'm pretty optimistic, but who knows?" he said. "This is a great organization, I love being here, great city. So I don't anticipate any problems."
Part of Flacco's negotiating tactics might include raises for members of his offensive line.
"Tell you what, our offensive line has played very well since I've been here, but the last four games have been just unbelievable," he said. "They're the reason that I'm standing here and we are Super Bowl champs."
Before the Super Bowl, Bisciotti expressed confidence that Flacco would be the Ravens' quarterback of the future.
"We've never lost a great, great franchise player from the beginning," Bisciotti said. "I'm just very comfortable that it will get done."
The last time the Ravens won a Super Bowl, they dumped quarterback Trent Dilfer and brought in Elvis Grbac. A similar situation almost assuredly won't occur this time, in part because it would seem difficult to get someone deemed an upgrade from Flacco.
"Joe Flacco is the best quarterback in football right now," Ravens running back Ray Rice said.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who also attended the news conference Monday, recalled his first meeting with Flacco before the Ravens drafted him out of Delaware in the first round of the 2008 draft.
"Joe impressed me as a guy that was really was determined to be good and had a lot to prove," Harbaugh said. "I just felt like he was a guy that was going to do whatever it took to be the best he could be. And that's proven to be true."