At age 39, Peyton Manning is the oldest QB to ever start a Super Bowl. Twenty-six-year-old Cam Newton -- the Georgia-bred baller with similar leadership skills and a swag that’s cooler than a Hunt’s Point pimp in a New York snow storm -- is the coldest QB to ever start a Super Bowl.
It’s Kenny Chesney and Van Morrison meets Migos and Future. Country line dancers to the left. Dabbers and Don Divas to the right. The cultural ramifications are deep and already fueling this contest.
Cam is always attacked with some racist jabs and belittling comments from the moron section, so that’s already in full swing.
The old school purists just don’t know what to make of Cam. The three-time Pro Bowler is cocky, he’s unapologetically black, but he’s always smiling and Cam loves the kids.
In addition, he happens to play the QB position like a genius symphony director, knowing exactly when to attack with the aggressive pound of a bassoon or ride the wind like a flute.
What separates Peyton Manning and Cam Newton from other QBs is that they were both No. 1 picks with more pressure coming out of college than the ten-second countdown on Top Chef.
They both were highly-touted prospects who still had some non-believers come draft day, although it didn’t affect their status. Both have been picked on at times for their team’s lack of playoff success.
However, despite some detractors, both QBs were always impressive to the eye. When you watched them play, you knew you were looking at a superstar. There was never a coach, someone who truly understood the game, who doubted their greatness.
People often attempt to rewrite history, but anyway you shape it, if you wanted your kid to ball like any QB of the last generation, it’s Peyton Manning. He is the prototype. He revolutionized the position, perfected and advanced the craft of signal-calling.
He’s faltered at times in the playoffs and people often unintelligently use his one Super Bowl victory as a knock rather than the icing on the cake of an incomparable career, but let’s be real.
The regular season counts too, and there’s no need to reference the stat book. Peyton is No. 1 in most statistical career categories. Tom Brady isn’t anywhere in sight in career passing yards and he won’t get the 23,000 plus yards needed to surpass Peyton, even if “The Sheriff” (as Cam Newton called Manning on Sunday after the Panther’s 49-15 NFC Championship win over Arizona) retires after this final run.
It’s such a fitting ending for Peyton. Win or lose, he beat his arch nemesis Brady in the AFC Championship game and the sagacious master gridiron great gets to have an old school Saturday afternoon Kung Fu shootout with the young, rising golden-armed kid; his final mission after years of helping to define the QB position and becoming the blueprint for so many of his successors.
There’s a clear changing of the guard going on and with all due respect to Brady, who has been an iconic postseason winner, Peyton is tied with Brett Favre for the most all-time regular season wins and he has no competition in marketing dollars generated for himself and the NFL. The Brady and Peyton debate will rage on forever, but Cam has his own lane to two-step down.
Super Bowl 50 will not only be a battle between two great QBs. It has myriad subplots; The old head vs. The new breed. The last great pocket passer vs. An emerging dual-option threat. Middle America vs.The Hood.
Today, we are celebrating the guys who have taken teams on their backs and had to lift them to another level, often without the benefit of a Hall of Fame coach or all-time great field goal kickers to bail them out of jams. Guys who never had teams great enough to go to six Super Bowls, but still managed to have an indelible effect on the game and alter the way the position would be played for years to come.
Peyton has been there and done that. Cam seems to be on his way.