DENVER - Broncos fans are doing a double take after seeing a giant photo of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on the side of Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The Denver Broncos tweeted Monday afternoon that the mammoth banner -- which includes a Peyton Manning photo on one side -- is designed to NFL specifications to promote both teams playing in the 2013 Season "Kickoff Game" between the Broncos and the Ravens on Sept. 5.
But, if you ask Broncos fans, the four-story Flacco poster might as well feature the Devil himself.
"I don't want to see his face in our town," said one long-time Broncos fan. "I'm sure they wouldn't want to see anything orange and blue in their town."
"i don't like them man. This is Denver. You gotta respect the Broncos," said another fan on the 16th Street Mall where similar banners line the street with both Manning and Flacco's likeness.
Even Peyton Manning took issue with the signs Tuesday on sports talk radio.
"Is that a bit crazy?" asked host Dave Logan.
"Yes, it is," said Manning. "I've never heard of anything like that for a regular season game. It doesn't seem like it makes a lot of sense that the Denver Broncos have to have an opposing player on their stadium."
As for the banners downtown, the Denver Downtown Business Imrovement District sold the banner space to the NFL. The business district said it does not discriminate against any paying customer, including the NFL. A district spokesperson said anyone can buy ad space and the content is approved unless it includes profanity, nudity or vulgarity.
"It doesn't represent Denver like it should," said another fan.
Some fans driving by on Interstate 25 are stunned -- bordering on outraged -- to see the big mug of the QB who beat the Broncos in the playoffs last year emblazoned on Denver's stadium. One observer noted that Flacco's image is closer to I-25 and Manning's image is less visible from the highway.
"Because the NFL promotes both teams playing in its annual Kickoff Game, fans will notice signage outside @SportsAuthField and around town that features the Broncos and Ravens," the Broncos tweeted. "But regardless of league guidelines, this will always be #BroncosCountry and we can’t wait to see all the orange in the stands a week from Thursday!"
A Change.org petition asking the NFL to take down Flacco's face from the Mile High Stadium has received some support. A fan using the name Broncos Nation, wrote, "Take the Joe Flacco signage off my Mile High Stadium! Broncos Nation will not endure this detestable and audacious act. Who in their right mind thought that we would just let this fly?! We stand united against your unbearable Joe Flacco signage."
When Bronco Derek Wolfe was asked Tuesday about the fans wanting to tear down the poster, Wolfe replied, "We'll take care of that, you guys just come to the game."