‘No shadow’: Tom Flacco working for pro career without ‘expectations’ from Super Bowl champion QB brother

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Tom Flacco is trying to make his name as well known as Joe Flacco in Saskatchewan.

The current Roughriders quarterback is the younger brother of the Super Bowl XLVII champion and MVP. Just looking at height and weight measurements, you wouldn’t know the two were siblings. The NFL veteran is six-foot-six, 245 pounds while the CFL rookie checks in at an even six-foot, 205 pounds.

“I play differently than Joe, he’s going to sling it in the pocket, I’ll move around and find my holes. We’re pretty similar in the way we go out there and just play the game, don’t get in your own way,” Flacco said.

“I’m quicker and smaller than Joe, he’s going to hang in there and take that hit and throw it, where as I’ll move and find a guy.”

The elder Flacco was selected in the first round, 18th overall by the Baltimore Ravens during the 2008 NFL Draft. The youngest of six children in the Flacco household went unselected in the 2020 NFL Draft. In August last year, the Arizona Cardinals brought Flacco in for a look.

“I did a 20-minute workout, it was a great experience. I was hoping it would get my name out there and maybe something would happen from it, in terms of the NFL, but it didn’t. My goal is to make this team and be a CFL football player,” Flacco said.

“I came up here to play football. They gave me an opportunity, I know they were interested in me after my junior year. They put me on the negotiation list, so I was familiar with them and I wanted to play professional football.”

The 26-year-old Flacco finished his career at Towson University completing 61 percent of his passes for 6,082 yards with 50 passing touchdowns against 17 interceptions. He rushed 278 times for 1,066 yards and six touchdowns along the ground. The Voorhees, N.J. native was in the running for the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision’s version of the Heisman Trophy, the Walter Payton Award, while playing for the Tigers.

Coming out of Eastern Regional High School in New Jersey, Flacco was selected as an outfielder by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 32nd round, 952nd overall during the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft. Instead of trying for an MLB career on the diamond, the signal caller decided to focus on playing university football. 

“If I would have gotten picked high enough I would’ve went and played professional baseball, but I never really wanted to play college baseball. I always wanted to play college football, so once I didn’t get picked high enough I decided I was going to play football,” Flacco said.

“I always thought I would go tear it up in college and tell the coaches I’m going to play baseball too, but that’s not how it worked out. I did play one year at Towson, but I always wanted to play football.”

That love for football has brought Flacco across the Canadian border to Saskatchewan. He did his research on the prairie province prior to arriving for training camp at Mosaic Stadium. Flacco is competing to earn a roster spot behind franchise quarterback Cody Fajardo.

“I certainly trust coach [Jason] Maas and I respect his decision on who he thinks is best and why. We’ll probably go with who he likes best,” head coach Craig Dickenson said. “Flacco is a mature guy, I’ve liked his composure in the huddle. From what I’ve seen, he’s thrown the ball fairly well.”

“Getting on that field and stepping on that field for the first time was a little bit different, it’s so big. I looked it up and knew everything about it, but going on the field and stepping out there I was like ‘wow’ and this beautiful stadium they have here, it’s really cool,” Flacco said.

Throughout the process of waiting to sign a contract with a pro team, his Pro Bowl quarterback brother told him to stay patient and trust an opportunity would come. In the meantime, the Flaccos had throwing sessions together and a contract came from the Riders. Flacco said there are no extra expectations or shadow looming because of his older brother’s accomplishments in the NFL.

“I’m the youngest of six, so Joe’s just the oldest. For me that’s all I know, he’s been my brother my whole life. Joe’s just the oldest brother and I’m the youngest and I act like the youngest if you ask my family,” Flacco said.

“We just like competing in anything. We’re a family of sports, we played three sports all of us growing up. Joe is just the oldest, five boys and one girl, and we are really tight.”

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.