The Golden NFL shield says it all. The historic milestone is almost here. The Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers will play the 50th Super Bowl this Sunday American time. To mark the occasion the NFL all season has turned their famous shield ‘gold’. What started out in 1967 as Super Bowl 1, after an agreement between rival leagues, the NFL and the AFL, ‘the merger’ created a game that has become so big that an estimated 120 million viewers will watch it just in American households.
There have only been seven shows that have ever topped 100 million viewers in American TV history, six of them have been Super Bowls, and the other was the M.A.S.H finale in 1983, which drew 106 million viewers.
The term ‘Super Bowl’ was first coined by Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, who in an owners meeting was trying to come up with a name for the final game of the season, he’d been watching his kids bounce a ball called a ‘Super Ball’, a popular toy in the late 1960’s, and as College football had their playoff games as ‘Bowl’ games, the two words combined, the term ‘Super Bowl’ was born and grew especially after the media took off with it.
Today its big business, a 30 second TV commercial will set companies back around $5 Million US Dollars and this year they’ve brought in the Celebrity big guns, Alec Baldwin will appear for Amazon and Steven Tyler from Aerosmith will appear in a Skittles candy commercial, the Heinz Ketchup Hot Dog Stampede is great and Betty White appeared for Snickers in the past, which turned out to be a massive hit.
The half time show takes on a life of its own, with Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Katy Perry gracing the stage in previous Super Bowls, this year its Coldplay with a supporting cast of Beyoncé and Bruno Mars. For the fans a ticket to the big game will set you back around $3000 US dollars in the nosebleed section and if you want to go big for a cool $500,000 you and 19 of your closest friends can purchase a package that includes a charted flight from anywhere in the US, plus accommodation, tickets to the game and a VIP experience.
Super Bowl 50 will be played in Santa Clara, California, the home of the San Francisco 49ers, a state of the art stadium where a full-house of 69,000 will witness either the Broncos or Panthers send themselves to the history books. Super Bowls are hard to get to; in 50 of them the teams with the most appearances are the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots, all with 8.
In this era of free agency and the salary cap there is no guarantee your team will ever make it back. In fact, out of the current 32 teams there are 4 who have never made it to a Super Bowl, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars. For the Quarterbacks their legacies are formed and Hall of Fame careers are cemented with winning Super Bowls. As the marquee players of their franchises this is how Quarterbacks are defined, fairly or not.
Tom Brady (Patriots), Terry Bradshaw (Steelers) and Joe Montana (49ers) have each won 4 Super Bowls, the most of any QB. For this years QB’s it’s a tale of different era’s, this is Peyton Manning’s 18th season, 14 spent with the Indianapolis Colts, its his 4th Super Bowl (1-2). Cam Newtown of the Carolina Panthers has been in the NFL for 5 seasons and this will be his first appearance in the big game.
Manning has had by his standards a wretched year slowed down by injury, 9 touchdowns compared with 17 interceptions in the regular season. However, he has been much better in this playoff run, 2 touchdowns, zero interceptions. That ball security from the offense has been a huge factor in this postseason which only complements a Denver defense that is for real, they have bailed the team out late in many games.
The question is, can they do it one more time with Cam Newtown and a Panthers offense that has averaged 31 points a game this season, something has to give. A lot of things will have to go right for Denver to win Super Bowl 50, don’t turn the ball over on offense, run it well and receiver Demaryius Thomas needs to justify that 5 year $70 million dollar contract. The defense will have to be disciplined and not let Newtown scramble out of the pocket, run up field where he can make 30 yards in a blink, at least turn him into a pocket passer where he has to convert long 3rd downs, and hope the defensive backs can win the one on one battles.
Its all set up for a great game and Denver will be doing everything it can to avoid a repeat of 2 years ago in Super Bowl 48 when they were shellacked 43-8 by the Seattle Seahawks. This is likely Peyton Manning’s last game with Denver, over the course of his career he has redefined how the Quarterback position is played, perfecting the no-huddle offense, changing plays at the line of scrimmage by reading what the defense has planned and taking pre-game preparation to a new level.
But the winds of Quarterback change have arrived in Denver this season, with the injuries to Manning backup Brock Osweiler has performed well and the Broncos will be looking to free-up some cash from Manning’s 2016 salary of $19 million to retain key players. Denver fans would love nothing more than for Peyton ‘The Sheriff’ Manning to win one more Super Bowl, beat ‘Father Time’, jump back on this horse and ride off into immortality, just like John Elway did in the mid 90’s, when Denver won back to back Super Bowls.
For this game Denver won’t win a shoot-out so the score will have to be low, swayed by my Broncos love I’m predicting 23-20 for Denver to win Super Bowl 50, I hope…. I really do.