This article is going to run after the Super Bowl has already been played and won, but it would seem wrong to write about anything that was not Super Bowl-related on Super Bowl weekend. And no matter the outcome this past Sunday — as it will prove historic for whichever team and quarterback wins — the impressiveness of the matchup between the two quarterbacks remains.
One of the big things that everyone keeps bringing up regarding Sunday’s Super Bowl is how it is a shame to see two great quarterbacks finally play against each other but at almost opposite points of the spectrum in their careers. Cam Newton is on the rise, while Peyton Manning is probably playing in the last Super Bowl of his career. Though the two will not actually have a face-to-face showdown — because that’s how football works — it will still be a cross-generational battle of sorts. The two quarterbacks are similar in that both stand tall at 6-foot-5 and were number one draft picks of their year (Manning in 1998 and Newton in 2011), but the similarities essentially end there. Newton, at 26 years old, is coming into his own in his fifth season as the Carolina Panthers’ Quarterback. He led his team to their best regular season record, 15-1, and was named NFL MVP. Manning, 39, on the other hand, is probably playing his last football game of his 18-year career.
Manning has become arguably one of the best quarterbacks of all time. He has 71,940 career passing yards — the most in NFL history — and won the MVP award five times. He also won the Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007. This is Newton’s first Super Bowl appearance but probably not his last. Newton has ushered in a new style of quarterback and already has 43 career rushing touchdowns. To put that in perspective, Manning only has 18 in his entire career. Newton has been gaining recognition for how he’s changing the quarterback position. He is probably the most effective short-yardage rusher in the league and is attracting attention for the way he’s been redefining what it means to be a pocket passer. It truly is a face-off between the old generation and the new, and probably the last time for a while that we will see a game like this.
These two quarterbacks are two of the greatest currently playing in the league and are certainly making cases for becoming some of the greatest of all time. But they’re just missing each other. Peyton is most likely on his way on to retirement after 18 seasons filled with major highs and some lows, while Newton is just beginning to make the game his own. After battling hip surgery and missing a few games this season, this game is Manning’s last shot to tie up his ring count with younger brother Eli. This is an emotional game for Manning. It’s his send-off into retirement. No matter what happens, he will forever be known as one of the best quarterbacks in recent history.
So while the league will most likely be saying goodbye to one of its greats this week, it will also be welcoming the future of football onto its grandest stage.