NEW ORLEANS -- For a guy with a proven record as a winner, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco remains a blank canvas in one respect.
"No tattoos," Flacco said last week when asked if he had any body artwork to rival that of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Flacco has a touchdown-pass-to-interception ratio in the playoffs this season of 8-0, and with a win in Super Bowl XLVII Sunday, could earn a paycheck in the Tom Brady-Drew Brees-Peyton Manning neighborhood.
He is 6-foot-6, 232 pounds, has one of the best deep arms in the NFL and can also throw short. Yet Flacco has been eclipsed in terms of interest by the edgy Kaepernick, the tattooed runner-passer whose story is so fascinating that it doesn't matter that he is a reluctant interview.
Flacco is second banana at best even on his own team, with linebacker Ray Lewis drawing cameras, tripods and tape recorders toward his podium as if he were a media magnet.
Meanwhile, Flacco, who is 54-26 in five NFL seasons and 8-4 in the playoffs, spent one of the media sessions not at a podium for players in demand but at a circular table nearby -- unheard of for the starting quarterback of a Super Bowl team.
In that way, Flacco resembles the Giants' Eli Manning, who has two Super Bowl rings to one for his brother Peyton yet faces endless discussion on whether he is an "elite" quarterback.
Like Eli Manning, Flacco is content to play for his teammates, letting Lewis and others
Steve Flacco, Joe's father, put it another way in an interview with The New York Times.
"Joe is dull," Steve Flacco said. "As dull as he's portrayed in the media, he's that dull. He is dull."
Said Joe Flacco: "I don't know if I would say I'm dull, but I'm probably pretty close to it."
Flacco is comfortable enough in his own skin to spend time Saturday at Cafe' Du Mond, posing for photos with fans the day before the biggest game of his life.
"I believe (dull) probably means I'm going out there and carrying myself in a good manner and not really giving anybody a reason to maybe like me or dislike me," Flacco said. "Either way, I don't really concern myself with that. It's all good with me."
When Flacco called the idea of playing Super Bowls in cold-weather cities "retarded," the story quickly died with a sincere apology the following day.
"I wish I hadn't said it," Flacco said. "I have a great relationship with Special Olympics in Baltimore and have had one for many years. I didn't mean to offend anybody, but I definitely apologize for that."
Flacco is anything but dull to 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, noting he "should have been" in the Super Bowl last season.
When wide receiver Lee Evans couldn't hold a potential winning 14-yard touchdown pass in the AFC Championship game against New England, Billy Cundiff missed a potential tying 32-yard field-goal attempt, and Flacco went home despite outplaying Brady.
"Right from the beginning, I was impressed with him," said 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, a member of the Ravens coaching staff from 2006-09. "He has a big arm, throws the ball very easily and naturally. He's calm, knowledgeable. The game is not too big for him."
Fangio said he told Ravens coach John Harbaugh he "has his horse that he can ride the next 10 to 15 years as his quarterback in Baltimore."
In the last year of his contract, Flacco has been unable to secure a long-term deal with the Ravens.
Baltimore owner Steven Bisciotti told reporters Flacco "is a franchise quarterback, and he's going to get franchise money."
Ravens running back Ray Rice said Flacco's even-keel demeanor reflects the Baltimore offense.
"I think in football you have to do that, because if you get too high or too low, you find yourself riding the wave," Rice said. "Joe Flacco never rode the wave this year."