I'm 50/50 On This One — Thoughts on Super Bowl 50

On January 15th, 1967, the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in Super Bowl I. The halftime show was an array of performances from various college bands and the game was televised by both NBC and CBS. Tickets were twelve dollars.


This coming Sunday, February 7th, 2016, the Denver Broncos will face off against the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, the only Super Bowl so far to drop the roman numeral from its title. Coldplay will no doubt bring pyrotechnics and a multi-layered stage to halftime and only one network, CBS, will host the 114.4 million people who watch the football championship. One advertising slot on average costs 4.5 million dollars. Tickets can go for five thousand dollars.


At 39 years old, Broncos’ Peyton Manning is the oldest quarterback to start in a Super Bowl. Also, the Broncos have won 11 games by 7 points or fewer, another Super Bowl first. Known in previous seasons for their high-powered offense and Manning’s surgical presence on the field, this year the Broncos have been known for their impenetrable defense. The defensive trio of Ware, Talib, and Ward, along with the rest of the secondary, has threatened each and every quarterback they have faced so far. This team is determined and unflinching. With Manning hinting that this is his last year in the league, the Broncos seem unwilling to let another chance for absolute victory to slip by after their 2014 loss to Seattle.



Carolina has been magic. The league has not seen a quarterback as dynamic as 26 year-old Cam Newton in years. Newton takes hits and pops up grinning, throws with accuracy, and takes a read option play to success like it’s nothing. The Panthers have had 18 touchdown drives of fewer than five plays as the most in the NFL, and Cam has rushed for 43 touchdowns, tied for the most of any quarterback in the Super Bowl era. Tight end Greg Olsen and wide receiver Devin Funchess are just two of Cam Newton’s favorite targets. I can say this with certainty: the Panthers are hungry. They have been riding the wave of a near perfect season, with only one loss to the Falcons in December, and are full of youthful energy. They have the numbers to back up their bravado, and are ready to crush their opponents with a smile.



The thing about the Super Bowl is that it has become about way more than just football — in truth, the same goes for the rest of football in general. I’m not claiming to be a football purist, but I’m watching the game on Sunday. Because, beyond the stats and the Budweiser horses, there’s the bitterly human aspect — that is why I love sports. Peyton Manning is, in football terms, old as all hell. His arm strength is questionable and he does not have the demanding presence of the field that he once did. He is still, without doubt, one of the best quarterbacks of all time. But he has only won one Super Bowl, an odd record for a legend to have. A big part of me, and a big part of the football community, wants Manning to win in his last rodeo to finish his reign with a victory.


Add in Cam Newton and his Panthers, a bright, young team full of talent and camaraderie. They have always been good, but this season was something else, something miraculous and beautiful to watch. Newton’s energy is infectious and, honestly, I want him to win just to see him smile. Plus, he’s good. Carolina is very, very good, and they deserve the success that has come their way.


When my friend, who goes to school in Scotland, asked her token football fan friend (i.e. me) who she should tell her non-American friends to root for, I had no good answer for her. I texted her a lot of gibberish, babbled out some stats, and then told her really it was just quite complicated. There are a lot of men talking a lot of smack on a lot of radio stations about both teams and in my experience, no one exactly knows what to think. 


In the first Super Bowl there was one turnover by each team. The predictions for Super Bowl 50 say that this score will be decided by just that, turnovers. There is a winner and loser in sports, and this game will come down to mistakes and the quest for perfection. I can’t say who I’m supporting this year, I can’t just blindly and ferociously root against New England or Dallas this time around. I can only say that I love this game, I’m sad the season is ending, and I won’t be able to look at either of the quarterbacks if they lose.




Image credits: thesource.com, usatoday.com