NEW ORLEANS -- It worked for Eli Manning. Now it's working for Joe Flacco.
Apparently all a quarterback needs to do is say that he is "elite" or "the best" or make some other eyebrow-raising comment about himself during the offseason and he can automatically punch a ticket to the Super Bowl.
It's not hard to imagine 32 self-proclaimed elites this offseason if Flacco wins on Sunday.
The Ravens quarterback chuckled at that idea this week.
"That was kind of my point when I made the statement I made," Flacco said. "I believe that most quarterbacks, or 32 quarterbacks, I think they should believe that they're the best quarterback. I don't care what the truth is. I don't care what the statistics say. I think the only way to get to this point and to have success in this league is to truly believe that in yourself whether other people do or not."
When it comes to Manning and Flacco, there are still some who do not. Manning may have won two Super Bowls, but he's also missed out on the playoffs in three of the last four seasons. Flacco still has doubters even though he's won a playoff game in each of his five years in the league and is now playing in his first Super Bowl.
Manning made headlines prior to the start of the 2011 season when he dared place himself in the same class as Tom Brady and the other premiere quarterbacks in the league. He wound up beating many of them -- including Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady twice -- on his way to a second Super Bowl MVP.
Flacco upped even those bold proclamations by Manning this past spring. In April, long before he was preparing for Sunday's title game, Flacco was trumpeting himself not as a member of the elite, but as standing alone amongst them.
"I assume everybody thinks they're a top-five quarterback," Flacco said in a radio interview then. "I mean, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'm top five, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'd be very successful at my job if I didn't feel that way. I mean, c'mon? That's not really too tough of a question.
"That doesn't mean that things are going to work out that way," he added. "It just means that's the way it is. That's the way I feel that it is and that's the way I feel it should be."
Of course it did work out. Flacco had a very strong season and now he's a game away from being able to cash in on his boast. Only one quarterback in the NFL will be able to hoist the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday, and he could very well be the one.
At that point, Flacco said it won't matter what people think about him . . . other than considering him a world champion.
"I don't really care," Flacco said this week of others' opinions of him. "I'm just going to let my play speak for itself. I don't know if it's answered it or not, it's really not my job to concern myself with that . . . If we come out here and play the game the way we should and the way we can then I don't care and I don't think anyone else is going to care. We're going to be feeling pretty good about ourselves and what we accomplished."