Joe Flacco looms larger than life in Denver, and not just because he engineered the stunning upset of the Broncos in the playoffs that propelled the Ravens to the Super Bowl title.
The league’s marketing campaign for next week’s kickoff game features several large banners of Flacco fluttering from lamp posts on downtown streets — and a giant one several stories high that hangs at Sports Authority Field alongside a banner of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
That has drawn an angry public reaction from Broncos fans who have taken to Twitter and to the streets to vent their frustration. One local sportscaster used a Sharpie to draw a mustache on a Flacco poster hanging along Denver’s 16th Street Mall, and covered another with tape.
Some fans have organized an online petition asking the league, which purchased the advertising space from the Downtown Denver Partnership, to remove the Flacco banners.
The Ravens visit Denver Sept. 5 for the regular-season opener. They’re the first champion to open on the road since the Super Bowl team began hosting the league’s Thursday night kickoff celebration 10 years ago.
In a radio interview this week, Manning questioned the placement of the Flacco banner on the stadium, telling KOA 850 AM, the Broncos’ radio affiliate in Denver, ‘‘It doesn’t seem to make much sense that the Denver Broncos have to have an opposing player on their stadium.’’
‘‘We respect the fans’ passion and enthusiasm for the game,’’ said Brian McCarthy, NFL vice president of corporate communications. ‘‘This will be in many ways a Super Bowl-like atmosphere with a national audience to kick off the season.’’
Defensive end Derek Wolfe said he prefers everyone leave the banners alone and let the Broncos’ defense worry about taking down Flacco.
‘‘We’ll take care of that,’’ he said. ‘‘You guys just come to the game.’’
RGIII a go?
Redskins QB Robert Griffin III is expected to start Week 1 vs. the Eagles on “Monday Night Football,’’ according to an ESPN report that cited sources close to the player.
Griffin is scheduled to meet with Dr. James Andrews Thursday night to get his final medical clearance. Andrews surgically repaired Griffin’s right knee after the QB tore multiple ligaments in Washington’s playoff loss to Seattle.
Cowboys defensive tackle Jay Ratliff said there is no issue with his hamstring, meaning a setback that will cost him at least the first six games is related to a groin injury that was surgically repaired eight months ago.
Ratliff spoke at the team’s kickoff luncheon Wednesday, a day after being put on the physically unable to perform list. He never answered questions from reporters during training camp in Oxnard, Calif., where coach Jason Garrett said he was sidelined by a hamstring injury sustained in the pre-camp conditioning test and lingering issues with his groin.
Ratliff, who turns 32 on Thursday, had sports hernia surgery in December.
‘‘Absolutely I’m disappointed,’’ Ratliff said in a rare and brief interview.
Jets ink Harrell
The Jets signed former Packers backup QB Graham Harrell, giving them some added depth at the position. Harrell passed his physical Wednesday, in time to join the Jets for the preseason finale against Philadelphia on Thursday night. The former Texas Tech star spent the last three seasons as a backup to Aaron Rodgers, and was 2 of 4 for 20 yards in four regular-season appearances . . . The Jaguars have signed veteran cornerback Will Blackmon and waived rookie cornerback Marcus Burley. Blackmon has played in 43 games over six seasons with the Packers and Giants. Blackmon played three seasons at Boston College, where he saw action as a defensive back and receiver.