Denver, CO, United States (4E Sports) – Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning questioned the placement of a large banner of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco alongside his banner at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
“Yes, it is strange,” Manning told KOA 850 AM, the Broncos’ radio affiliate. “I’ve never heard of anything like that for a regular-season game.”
During the interview, which will be aired before Denver’s preseason finale Thursday against the Arizona Cardinals, Manning also asked fans to dial down the noise when the Broncos have the ball.
The banners are part of the NFL’s marketing campaign when the Super Bowl champion Ravens play the Broncos in Denver next Thursday in the NFL’s regular-season opener.
Aside from Manning, fans are enraged about the large banners of Flacco that were placed in different spots in the city.
Also, there are several smaller pictures of Flacco, with “Kickoff” printed on them, hanging throughout downtown Denver, including on the city’s 16th Street Mall.
Some fans have organized an online petition to have the Flacco pictures and banners removed. The advertising space in downtown was purchased by the NFL from the Downtown Denver Partnership.
The Broncos, several people with the team say, resisted the idea of the Flacco banner hanging from the stadium, but the league overruled those objections.
“We appreciate the fans’ passion and their desire to protect their team but think of this game as more of an opening ceremony, a celebration of the new season for the entire league,” said Brian McCarthy, NFL vice president of corporate communications.
“This game will be viewed by an audience of millions and reflects the opening of the season. There will be similar banners hanging in Baltimore at the events there next week as well,” he added.
McCarthy reaffirmed that the game was originally going to be scheduled in Baltimore because the Ravens are the defending Super Bowl champions.
However, the Baltimore Orioles would not reschedule their game — No. 138 of their season – so the Ravens will open the season in Denver.
“But we have moved forward in the presentation of the game as the season opener,” McCarthy said.