Cam Newton has become one of the most loved athletes in just a year but also became the most targeted. The “why” is always debatable but what is not up for debate is whether or not his football team deserves to be playing in Super Bowl 50.
Head Coach Ron Rivera and GM Matt Hurney believed in him from the beginning. Cam openly admitted knowing how much he had to improve mechanically and mentally to become the best quarterback in the NFL, from their first meeting constantly reiterating the fact he was willing to put in the work. An eventful college football journey from Blinn JUCO (where he won a Championship) to Florida to Auburn, ending in another National Championship with a perfect 14-0 record served as proper notice that Cam was more than just talk. A Heisman Trophy only added to that statement but the true value remained in large part within his work ethic, quality upbringing and charismatic leadership – things you can’t coach.
Fast forward to Roger Goodell stepping up to his designated podium to announce with the Number 1 Overall Pick in the 2011 Draft, the Carolina Panthers select Cameron Newton from Auburn. Instantly boos filled the room as the commentator told fans “you need to be patient with Cam.” Here we are now, 2016, those words couldn’t have been more true as he has become a fan favorite in Carolina not only leading the Panthers to a Super Bowl behind a 15-1 record but winning MVP as well as Offensive Player of the Year. The manner in which he did so, handing out footballs to kids and dabbing on opponents shows both sides of the incredible talent.
On one hand he flexed that confidence it takes to be an elite quarterback turned Champion but also the character and class to use football as a gift (both figuratively and literally). It speaks volumes to the gut instinct that Ron Rivera and GM Hurney had from day one regarding his upbringing, skill and desire.
The Mannings = football. There may not be another family of quarterbacks to have the amount of success as brothers Eli and Peyton, father Archie Manning paved the way playing quarterback in the NFL. Imagine having two sons go onto win 3 Super Bowls, pretty impressive right? But the oldest, Peyton has his heart on adding one more to that total as it could very well be his last season in the league. Anyone with common sense knows when Peyton puts his mind to something chances are favorable he’s going to demand the best of his teammates and himself in the same way.
A photo posted by Denver Broncos (@broncos) on
That kind of work ethic and hours of studying defenses made it look effortless on his way to 5 MVPs and 1 Super Bowl win. His winning habits began early on much like his Super Bowl opponent Cam Newton, renaming many of the NFL rookie records after being the number one overall draft pick for the Indianapolis Colts. While we all joke about his popular “Omaha! Omaha!” audibles, it was that early and ongoing preparation that has set up this monumental moment 18 years into his career. Peyton has a chance to put a Lombardi trophy shaped exclamation mark on an incredible career this Sunday, February 7th in Super Bowl 50.
This matchup is truly something movie scripts are made of; just take a look at these few storylines:
- Cam Newton broke Peyton Manning’s rookie record by throwing for 400 yards in his first game.
- This is only the 3rd time in NFL history the MVP played the #1 defense for a Super Bowl – (both times favored the defense.)
- It will be the #1 offense in the league (Carolina) against the #1 defense in the league (Denver).
- This is the first time EVER in NFL History that the Super Bowl features two players who were #1 overall draft picks. Manning was #1 in 1998 and Newton in 2011.
- Peyton Manning is the first quarterback to ever take multiple teams to multiple Super Bowls.
Adding to this movie like script: Running Back CJ Anderson is an true example on the Broncos sideline of what persistence, heart and seizing the moment looks like. He was an undrafted player who fought to earn touches in 15 games a season now in position to play for a Super Bowl title. One guy who knows very well what that feels like, Tom Brady, had to acknowledge Anderson and give a few encouraging words telling him after their AFC Championship battle “”CJ way to fight and prove everybody wrong, you belong in this league. I love the way you run, keep climbing to be great”. As if his journey to this stage in his career didn’t speak volumes regarding his will to win, pay attention Super Bowl Sunday and we can almost guarantee you’ll see him making the most of every. single. carry.
Look on the opposite sideline and our movie like drama continues with Thomas Davis. A key component of the much improved Carolina defense broke his arm early in the NFC Championship game. Undaunted he told his team “I will still play in the Super Bowl”, opting for surgery that included up to 12 screws and a metal plate being inserted. While he could’ve easily hyped a heroic come back he put his team first saying “Man, even bigger than me having this opportunity, I want to go out and play for my team because I know I can help the team.” It’s that kind of will to win on display from both sides that makes this one so exciting.
“I ain’t missing the Super Bowl, you better believe that.”
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) January 25, 2016
Is Peyton Manning going to win a Super Bowl in his very last NFL season and ride off in movie fashion? Or is Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers going to continue to “dab” in the endzone turning every game into an impromptu charity football give away? When you say best of the best, this is exactly what you want.
Hit us @SwaysUniverse with your predictions!