A Tale of Two Quarterbacks
By Bernard Freeman
Even if you’ve only watched TV commercials during the 2015 football season, pills you would recognize this year’s starting Super Bowl quarterbacks. Carolina’s Cam Newton has been busy pitching yogurt while Denver’s Peyton Manning has found his singing voice with insurance commercial jingles.
Multimillion-dollar sponsorships aside, doctor these two quarterbacks have a chance to enhance their marketability even further with a win in Super Bowl 50. What’s even more remarkable than their successful seasons thus far is just how different their playing styles are.
Newton is one of the new faces of the National Football League, drug able to break down defenses with both his arm and his legs. Manning is the prototypical pocket passer with limited mobility but a proven background carving apart defenses with accuracy and the occasional deep ball.
Differences aside, one major bond the two share are their college careers in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Newton (Auburn) and Manning (Tennessee) are just the third pair of former SEC quarterbacks to start against one another in the Super Bowl. The others were Fran Tarkenton against Ken Stabler in 1977 and Manning against Rex Grossman 30 years later.
Newton has established himself as an electrifying quarterback this season, accounting for 45 touchdowns passing and rushing. His consistent output this season helped him become the first player in NFL history with more than 30 passing scores and 10 rushing scores in the same season.
This double-threat potential came into play in the NFC championship win that lifted the Panthers into the Super Bowl, as Newton threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more against the Arizona Cardinals.
If Newton wins the NFL MVP award this season — as many expect — he will become the first Panthers player in team history to win the award. He also would be the first Panther to ever receive a single vote.
Known as “The Sheriff,” Peyton Manning isn’t exactly the gunslinger quarterback that he used to be. Injuries have slowed the 39-year-old over the past couple of seasons, especially this season, when he missed six games with a foot injury.
Consider this juxtaposition of statistics: Manning threw for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns just two seasons ago against his 2,249 yards and nine touchdowns during his abbreviated 2015 regular season. Manning also threw 17 interceptions this season.
His performance, coupled with his injury, led to the ascension of backup quarterback Brock Osweiler, who many pundits were ready to anoint the long-term starting quarterback of the Broncos, even after Manning’s injury was behind him.
The Sheriff had other ideas and is one game away from possibly riding off into the sunset of retirement.