Joe Flacco wasn't born a quarterback.
He was like any other kid who loved football, playing a number of positions in pickup games, and the NFL players that captivated him reflected that. He was particularly dazzled by running backs. Barry Sanders drew him in with fluid jukes that left defenders' ankles in shambles. And through the magic of NFL Films, a young Joe was enamored with Walter Payton and his ability to shed tackles by what seemed like sheer will.
Then there were the receivers. In his younger years, he appreciated the graceful dominance of Jerry Rice, and by the end of Flacco's middle-school years, he was a full-fledged fan of "The Freak," Randy Moss, and his unprecedented talent.
Of course, there were quarterbacks mixed into the conversation, too. The best quarterbacks of that era — Joe Montana, Dan Marino, John Elway — each had something to offer Flacco, who would come to watch games with his father to analyze each decision a quarterback made.
Some of these players may have shaped the player Joe Flacco would become. All of them, though, shaped his love for the game.
In this new series, we'll take you through different stages in a Broncos player's life by asking them to tell us about their favorite players when they were elementary school, middle school, high school and college. In their own words, we'll hear about the athletes they admired to get a glimpse of the football fans they were and the players they would become.