On Sunday, during Super Bowl 50, we will be watching one quarterbacking legend playing in possibly his last game while another legend in the making is gracing football’s biggest stage for the first time.
Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos is playing in his 18th season and his fourth Super Bowl. Manning has the chance to ride off into the sunset by capturing his second Super Bowl ring and calling it quits on a hall of fame level career.
On the other side, we have Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers who has had a career season and is the clear favorite to be named league MVP. Newton has perhaps taken the throne from LeBron James as the most polarizing figure in sports, so every move he makes in the game and surrounding it will be heavily scrutinized.
One of the reasons this matchup is so compelling is the fact that Manning and Newton are very different. Manning has been the prototypical pocket passer his entire career while also spending his career as a media favorite.
Newton on the other hand has been doubted from before he entered the league. Newton is a dual threat quarterback that can beat you with both his arm and his legs. Newton threw for 3,837 yards and 35 touchdowns this season while also running for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is capable of making any throw on the football field and has proved that he is more than just a “running quarterback.”
Newton has been on a crusade to silence his doubters this season and it has been fun to watch it unfold. Because Newton’s game on the field has come virtually without flaw, his detractors have reached for new things to criticize. Namely his touchdown celebrations are the cause of uproar but Newton has paid the critics no mind.
It is only fitting that Newton’s final hurdle to reach immortality is none other than the legendary Manning. Now, the two have shown no personal issues with each other, in fact both sides have shown mutual respect for each other. However, this is a chance for Newton to blast down the walls of the traditional “right way” to play quarterback and replace them with his way of playing.
Newton can complete the evolution of the quarterback position with a victory on Sunday and set himself up to be the future of the NFL. The NFL is definitely a copycat league, with teams always looking for the newest ways to find an advantage. However, it will be hard for another team to find a quarterback that can play quite like Newton. His ability to get out of the pocket, along with his size, makes him a nightmare for defenses to scheme against.
There is only one Newton, and we should be able to embrace him being himself. So on Sunday I hope to see Newton not change a single thing about the way he plays on football’s biggest stage.
Spencer Mayfield is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women's basketball. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.