Super Bowl 50: the old vs. the new
MATTHEW ROBERSON | SPORTS EDITOR | @mroberson22
Despite the recent public outcry regarding football’s inherently violent nature, which was reinforced by the release of the movie Concussion, one thing remains true about the NFL: People will watch the Super Bowl.
In fact, millions of people will watch the Super Bowl, as they do every year. If viewership trends continue, Super Bowl 50 will be the most watched broadcast in the history of television.
However, the NFL’s annual championship game also attracts hordes of people who flock to the stadium’s surrounding area simply to revel in the Super Bowl air.
Sophomore Julia Torgerson and her family will be part of that group.
Her family made reservations for a hotel near the stadium two years ago, in hopes that their hometown Seattle Seahawks would be participants.
When the Seahawks were bounced from the playoffs in the divisional round, they decided to skip the game and instead enjoy the other, less expensive activities of Super Bowl week.
While she will not be attending the actual game, Torgerson will be going to Media Day and experiencing the one-of-a kind hype that surrounds America’s premiere sporting event.
“A lot of people that go don’t even go to the game,” Torgerson said. “It’s mainly for the experience and the atmosphere. There’s going to be a lot going on even if you’re not going to the game.”
With that in mind, it is fascinating to look at the makeup of the two teams who will duke it out on Sunday, Feb. 7 for the right to be called Super Bowl champions.
The Denver Broncos are a great representation of football’s past, as the team upholds several values that will evoke nostalgia in the sport’s older viewers.
The quarterback, veteran Peyton Manning, is a first ballot Hall of Famer who has heroically overcome multiple injuries, surgeries, and overall regression in his football-playing skills.
He is the archetype of the pocket passer, a largely sedentary, cerebral style of play that popularized the position of quarterback during football’s early days.
Manning rose to the tops of NFL record books with his preternatural ability to dissect defenses and find open receivers with his lightning-quick decision making.
What’s more, he’s the son of a former NFL quarterback and has a brother who is a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback himself.
Even the Broncos’ coaching staff carries an aura of old school football. Denver’s head coach Gary Kubiak was drafted by the Broncos organization in 1983.
In his senior year at Texas A&M, the 54-year-old Kubiak led his conference in passing yards with 1,948.
To illustrate how far football has come in the modern, pass-happy era that we live in, there were 12 quarterbacks in the Football Bowl Subdivision this year who threw for over 4,000 yards.
Kubiak will attempt to become the first coach to ever win a Super Bowl for a team which he played for.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is another football lifer on the Broncos’ staff looking for his first Super Bowl ring.
Phillips, who was instrumental in the team’s victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in last month’s AFC Championship Game, started his coaching odyssey in 1969 as a graduate assistant at the University of Houston.
He is the son of Bum Phillips, a man who was famous for being the lovable head coach of the Houston Oilers, a team that ceased operations in 1996. Even the Broncos’ franchise itself is a solid metaphor for the team’s old, traditional ways.
The Broncos were founded in 1960 and will play in their eighth Super Bowl this weekend, which will tie them with the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New England Patriots for most all-time.
Across the field from the Broncos at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA will be the upstart Carolina Panthers.
Juxtaposed to Denver and their virtually immobile 39-year-old quarterback, the Panthers will trot out 26-year-old superstar Cam Newton who has made his money as a mobile quarterback.
Newton’s 10 rushing touchdowns this season are more than Manning has amassed in the last nine years.
Newton’s 636 rushing yards this season falls just short of the 667 yards that Manning has gained over the course of his entire 17 year career.
While there’s no official stats on this sort of thing, one could guess that Newton also has Manning handily beat in on-field smiles and dance routines.
In short, Newton is everything that Manning is not.
A quick glance at Carolina’s depth chart reveals that most of the team’s foundational players are young and just entering the primes of their respective careers.
Aside from Newton, middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is just 24 years of age and has already been named a first team All-Pro three times.
Defensive pillars Kawann Short, Star Lotulelei, Charles Johnson, and Josh Norman are also still in their twenties.
While the Broncos’ origins can be traced back to the early 1960s, the Panthers didn’t play their first NFL season until 1995, around the time when most current college students were born.
Although the game will be played in Santa Clara, roughly 45 miles southeast of San Francisco, the city is sure to be flooded with visitors who will clog traffic lines and pack restaurants to their brims.
“I’ve been to San Francisco before and I’m just worried that the city is going to be packed with tourists,” Torgerson said. “The hotel is sold out, everything is sold out.”
Nevertheless, the pageantry of the Super Bowl will make Torgerson’s trip one to remember forever.
Nevermind the fact that her beloved Seahawks fell short of their third straight Super Bowl appearance, Torgerson is still excited to see some of the NFL’s other best players in person at Media Day.
“I’ve always wanted to see a [professional] football player up close, just to see how big they actually are,” Torgerson said. “I want to see all the news people. So many fans from other places are going to be there, I don’t even care who wins.”
Regardless of who wins the game, some things are guaranteed about the public’s behavior during the big game.
There will be millions and millions of dollars on the line thanks to America’s gambling population, millions and millions of viewers on television, and probably just as much food and alcoholic beverages consumed.
Much has changed about the sporting world in the 50 years since the first Super Bowl was played, but one thing remains the same.
There is no other day of the year quite like Super Bowl Sunday.