By Greg Mandozzi ‘18
Football is America’s sport. A sport that has grown into a multi-million dollar industry where some of the brightest stars shine. As we all recover from a devastating Patriots defeat at the hands of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the mile high city, we sit on the sidelines and prepare for a rare Super Bowl void of our beloved Patriots.
It seems that every year it comes down to Brady vs. Manning to decide who moves on. Easily regarded as the two best quarterbacks of their generation, these old men look to rack up some rings before they rack up their cleats for good. The debate may always go on as to who is the better quarterback. Is it the best regular season passer Manning or the clutch playoff champ Brady? While Brady looks like a young 38, Manning could be playing his final game in an NFL uniform on Super Bowl Sunday.
What we must realize is that these two legends may be the last of their kind. It is quite apparent that the game is evolving rapidly into a new style. Gone are the days where you can throw your way victory, as the young elusive quarterbacks are showing that it helps to have mobility, and the ability to scramble from pressure. Manning has been able to use his mind, and whatever he has left in his arm to get him to where he is, but the story is very different for the opposing Carolina Panthers play caller.
Cam Newton may not have the football name or pedigree of football’s first family, the Manning’s, but he can likely out run them all. The Panthers come pounding into the Super Bowl with a young, fresh, and exciting new image, that the NFL really has not seen much of. From the celebrations, to the trash talk that has almost all been backed up on the field this season, to the chip on their shoulders, as no one saw these cats going to the super bowl at the beginning of the year.
Newton is the fast paced, flashy young kid that you either love, or love to hate. A sure fire candidate for the future face of the league once Manning and Brady hang them up, he has a winning smile, winning attitude, and he is having fun. While the older pocket passers are all business, Newton and the Panthers are enjoying themselves, and they don’t seem to have any intentions of hiding it.
It all sounds so perfect, a storybook ending to a legendary tale. Manning finally bests his longtime nemesis Brady in their last meeting, goes on to the Super Bowl, and rides off into the sunset on his bucking Bronco a champion. The way it should be right? Well Cam Newton and the heavily favored Panthers roll into the playoffs as a ferocious opponent. It truly will have to be a blindside upset if Manning wants end his career on top. A national champion in junior college, then a national championship at Auburn along with a Heisman Award, Newton is a born winner.
How can we forget about the great Peyton’s not so stellar Super Bowl past too, having lost more of them than he has won. The question will be, can Manning muster up his strength and fortitude to give it one last shot, or will the kid launch the NFL into a new era with winning his first ring primarily thanks to his legs? It’s a classic battle of old school vs. new school, and the odds are stacked in the young blood’s favor this time around.
We may hate Peyton Manning as a player, and as our longtime rival here in New England, but I think it is important to stop, watch, and take in this legend’s presence. Stop the hate for a second and give him at least some respect, as he deserves it. This could signify the end of an era, one that spans my entire lifetime. Like a Derek Jeter, or a Kobe Bryant, he is a player that makes it fun to be a fan. It’s only a rivalry if both sides pose at least somewhat of a threat, and Manning has been that many times in the past. Off the field he has been known to be classy and professional.
Is it going to be the legend going out on top or the charismatic kid getting his day? Either way it will make for an extremely noteworthy story.