Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen, to SUPER BOWL SUNDAY! A fantastic once-a-year tribute to the geniuses of Madison Avenue with a few moments of sporting sprinkled in.
If you’re going to watch any of the American Football Match between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, you should probably know a little bit about who to root for and pick a side.
We can totally help you with that.
Let’s start with the Carolina Panthers. They’re led by this dude: Ron Rivera. He was a former player who is just kind of awesome and the only Hispanic head coach in the league.
His nickname is “Riverboat Ron” because from time to time he’ll have insanely aggressive play calling.
But he supposedly doesn’t love that moniker. If it were up to him he’d highlight his intelligence over his chutzpah.
To me he is one of the most old school, cookie cutter coaches out there and kind of a throwback to an era of quiet men carrying a big stick. He’s like the anti-Rex Ryan. Analytical Ron has kind of an unsmiling Captain Ray Holt thing about him and if he was on a cop show he’d absolutely be the hard-to-read oft-perturbed captain. He can sometimes looks like he’s in a coma during a game but in general? He kicks ass.
His team leader and quarterback is Cam Newton. Someday, when we gain the technology to upload our consciousness to a hard drive and then back into a younger, cloned body, I’m going to download mine into a Cam Newton clone body. That’s how near-perfect his physique is. He’s built like a professionally designed cyborg.
He’s the type of near-perfect physical specimen that shouldn’t exist. He’s huge and beautiful and has a crazy, luminescent smile. Some people will tell you that he’s kind of a showy dick and draws too much attention to himself. They’ll tell you that he acts like he’s on Dance Fever every time he gets a three yard gain and pulls his shirt open like Clark Kent whenever he scores. They will tell you that he’s a delinquent who had a spotty record in college and is kind of an uppity shit. You know who those people are? Goddamn white supremacists.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying that if you don’t like Cam Newton you’re a filthy, disgusting white supremacist. I’m not saying that at all. I have no factual basis to say that. I’m saying I think there’s a possibility that you’re a filthy, disgusting white supremacist. I’m saying that if you can’t appreciate Cam Newton’s fluid, relaxed pre-snap style (knowing every single nightmarish debilitatingly difficult thing that quarterbacks face on every play)?
If you can’t appreciate that joy and the howitzer arm and that Cam gives the ball to a child in the stands every time he scores, and approaches this game like a kid in a candy store? That his cadence is so relaxed that it’s like he’s calling for a lemonade from a hammock? Then I question the deeper issues in you, because my tiny mind can’t understand that. Cam Newton doesn’t have to be your favorite player, but he plays the game with power and effort and love and it’s beautiful to watch. You don’t have to love him, but for the love of all things holy: love the way he plays.
There are also some other players on the Panthers worth cheering for. Thomas Davis, who tore his ACL not once, not twice, but THRICE, is starting for the Panthers on defense. He’s won the NFL’s highest citizenship award for his community service and oh, he’ll be playing with a broken arm. No big whoop. Broken arm. Whatever. Also, anyone that can rock a red blazer is okay in my book.
Jared Allen is a guy some people love to hate. No idea why. Maybe it’s because he has sort of a redneck thing about him but he grows mullets ironically and trains like a Stygian dockworker. He’s also the funniest guy ever and he must be 59 years old. This is his last chance to get a ring. He doesn’t have much left in the tank, but what he has could make a difference.
Greg Olsen is so clutch on offense. He’s a big, rangy tight end who pulls down impossible passes whenever you absolutely need him to. It’s honestly like he’s on a video game mana meter where you can save up and unleash a special right when you need it. He’s so so so so so good. And if you’re like “I just came here to chew bubblegum and root for handsome Nords and I’m all out of bubblegum?” Well, you and Greg Olsen are a match.
Also his family is so beautiful that I want to punch him in the balls. I mean COME ON!
And on defense I’d be remiss for not mentioning Luke Kuechly. He’s the glue that holds everything together. When you draft a middle linebacker 9th overall, you just pray that he can be the captain of the defense. Luke Keuchly has been that and more. He’s just a monster. Dominant and fast. He can stop the run and the pass. He’s affable and smart and there’s no one in America better suited to marry anyone’s daughter. If you told me you were a Panthers fan solely on the basis that you love Luke Kuechly, I wouldn’t fault you one bit.
The Panthers have a bunch of mostly crummy workaday players on offense who probably make, like, thirty dollars a game between them but somehow play way over their heads, much like the Seahawks teams of the last few years. It’s kind of a weird, out-of-nowhere, blue collar team that plays solid, fundamental football. They run the ball and they play defense. That’s what teams do that win the Super Bowl. Run the ball and play defense. They lost exactly one game this season. They’re coming in riding a high and they’re favored to win the game. If any of these things appeal to you, the Carolina Panthers are your team.
On the other side we have the Denver Broncos. They’re kind of football royalty and they’re coached by a real low-key coach named Gary Kubiak. If you’re a contrarian, rooting for anyone named Gary is already a win. His nickname is Koob and he’s of Polish ancestry. He used to coach the Houston Texans for a bunch of years and he never did anything with them. Then he had a heart attack on the field and had to be rushed to the hospital, so you know he swallows some stress. When he was eventually fired in Houston, he coached the offense in Baltimore and then moved back to head coach in Denver. His style is to run a very predictable, but effective offense that combines the run and the pass. He’s highly thought of as a rock-solid manager and as a sometimes innovator, but probably not considered much of a visionary in the coaching ranks. Well-liked wherever he goes and a good man who supports the community.
His quarterback, Peyton Manning, hates running that Koob offense. Have you heard of Peyton Manning? He’s one of the greatest football players of all time. He’s one of those huge personalities that transcends the game. He’s also 73 years old and made of papier mache. Unlike the quarterback on the other team who could throw a tennis ball through a brick wall, Peyton Manning is sometimes able to throw a football eleven feet. Total. He is maybe the most heralded, most beloved quarterback in the modern era and once upon a time he was a ferocious lion who relied on his strength. Now, in what looks like his last game ever, he’ll have to rely on his smarts. If you’re from Indianapolis, Tennessee, Louisiana or are voting for Ted Cruz, chances are Peyton’s your huckleberry (Publisher’s note: HEY! — DR)
There are some really really good receivers on this team, but Peyton is such a liability that he has trouble getting them the ball. Demaryius Thomas has the talent to be the best receiver in the league if he could just concentrate and catch the easy ones.
Honestly, he’s been a bit of a letdown and the only reason people love him dearly is because for some reason we all love how he said “only winners get wings” in this commercial from last season.
On the other side of the field is Emmanuel Sanders. This is the most dangerous weapon the Broncos have, from a big play and speed standpoint. He cut his teeth with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he’s made a name for himself in Denver. Clutch clutch clutch. If he breaks a couple, it could change the game. He makes catches like this seem ho hum.
You have to love a player that lays out for the ball, but you also wince every time he does. Gamer.
In the backfield the Broncos have Ronnie Hillman, who is a rocket if he ever gets going. But more importantly is this player: C.J. Anderson. He’s a battering ram from the fourth ring of hell and if he gets a head of steam he’ll push your johnson in. He’s a Zamboni with a sixth gear.
From the bottom of my heart, I feel like C.J. Anderson is the key to this game. I feel like two things are absolutely integral to the Broncos having any shot of winning this game.
1) Peyton not turning the ball over.
2) C.J. Anderson running the ball. Early and often.
But more than anything: this team is about one thing: defense.
The Broncos defense finished the season as the #1 overall defense in every category that matters. They smother offenses in an historic way. Imagine trying to light a candle at the bottom of a pool. That’s what it feels like to play against the Broncos defense. They have playmakers at every level and are known for roughing up quarterbacks. If the Broncos win, and right now they’re not projected to, it will be because this defense holds powerhouse, and likely NFL most valuable player, Cam Newton in check. If any of these things appeal to you, chances are that you’ll be rooting for the Denver Broncos.
That’s really what we’re looking at. Two amazing defenses. Two great quarterbacks. One because of his youth and power and efficiency. The other because of his legacy and his veteran knowhow and his ‘one last game’ tank. The Broncos probably have more playmakers, but the Panthers definitely have the biggest playmaker on the field. Who will dig deeper? There is no doubt in my mind that this will not be Cam Newton’s last visit to the biggest stage in sports, but it will be Peyton’s. Who will pull it out? Who will raise the Lombardi trophy? The upstart workmanlike favorite or the star-stocked NFL royalty underdog? Only time will tell.