NEW ORLEANS -- As purple and yellow confetti rained down on the Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, we finally -- at long last -- saw Joe Flacco cut loose.
Gone was the even-keeled demeanor and monotone delivery that's become the quarterback's calling card. This Joe Flacco was elated, and he wasn't afraid to show it.
"See the car?" a beaming Flacco said to a friend, pointing at the Chevy Corvette awarded to him for being named Super Bowl XLVII MVP. "I get it! They gave it to me!"
Flacco wasn't the only joyful Raven celebrating near the San Francisco 49ers' end zone after Sunday's 34-31 win. Safety Ed Reed sang along to "Purple Rain" on the PA. Matt Birk -- a Super Bowl winner in his 14th NFL season -- gave interviews with a huge smile on his face, his son sitting on his shoulders. Linebacker Terrell Suggs was yelling, though we learned this week that's pretty much standard operating procedure.
The good vibes carried over to the locker room. Safety James Ihedigbo called out to no one in particular, "Hey, is that guy Joe Flacco an elite QB yet? Do we need tapes?" Suggs made a typical entrance, banging on a locker wall and chanting, "The champs is here!"
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti looked like a man who had achieved zen. Bisciotti straddled a folding chair, a (very expensive) victory cigar in his left hand and a bottle of water in his right. He didn't do a lot of talking, choosing to soak in the moment.
In the back corner of the locker room was the man of the hour. Linebacker Ray Lewis sat on a stool in front of his locker, slowly peeling away the tape and equipment that holds his 37-year-old body together. Lewis was quiet ... until Suggs rolled in.
"Is he crying?" Suggs teased.
Lewis jumped up and yelled back at Suggs, "Don't be startin' that!"