Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday's Musings on Sports - The Most Polarizing Event aka Superbowl 50

I can't say that I remember every single Superbowl (I was not born until after SB IV and have no recollection of any SB before SB XII), but I can't recall any Superbowl which has created as much dissension as this year's game. And it was all focused on the QBs.

For many football fans, the last fifteen years has been about two QBs, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. While Brady led his team to six Superbowls (winning four), Peyton has had the better statistical record, albeit only leading his team to three Superbowls (before this year's) and having won a single title game. Since Peyton had won one Superbowl he was not doomed to the Dan Marino school of never having won the big game, but he also was not in the elite category of being a multiple Superbowl winner.

On the other side was first time Superbowl QB Cam Newton. Whereas Peyton was a classic pocket QB, Newton won games with his legs as well as his arm. But there was another, equally important difference. While Peyton was at times demonstrative, Cam was one big ball of emotions who often celebrated his successes with "the dab" and pretended to reveal himself as Superman.

Everyone that I spoke with before the game had an opinion and they were all linked to the QB. Although Denver had a dominant defense (as Cam learned in the game), Carolina's "D" was equally formidable and had shredded Arizona's vaunted offense in the NFC Championship game. But almost no one was talking about the defenses, as the conversations were all about the QBs. Either you rooted for Peyton to win one last Superbowl and ride off into the sunset, or you were hoping the freak athlete could bring Carolina its first Superbowl title.

In fairness, there was at least one person who I spoke with who had a different reason to root for Carolina. As he explained it to me, since he was a NY Giant fan, he wanted Eli to be able to hold over Peyton "at Thanksgiving Dinner" that Eli had two SB victories and Peyton only one. He actually came off prescient as the TVs caught Eli looking unhappy when the Broncos sealed the game. (For a great article on Eli's reaction and explanation - click here;_ylt=AwrBT7rlurpWxloA9SVXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyM2JkazFoBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQTAxOThfMQRzZWMDc2M-).

But there were also people who had a darker reason to root for Peyton. These were people who disliked Cam's "Superman" antics. People who would invoke the maxim "act like you've been here before" in describing Cam's celebratory activities.

In the end, the Broncos "D" suffocated Cam and caused him to turn the football over many times, including two deadly fumbles. On the last fumble, it simply looked like Cam had given up and he made no effort to recover the ball, even though his team was only down by less than a touchdown at the time.

Whether or not you agree with those who feel that Cam needed to shelve his emotions in order to be a good leader, there is what to be said for acting in a professional manner, whether your team is winning or losing. By acting defeated and not making any attempt to recover the ball, Cam showed that he is not ready to lead a team to a championship. But there's always next year.

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