The previous two blogs talked about lots of things surrounding Super Bowl 50, but there still seems to be something missing ... Ah yes, the game itself. Somewhere alongside the hype, the music and the commercials, people will play football. This one could be interesting, even for the most casual fan; here's the story I sent to papers:
By Mike Hughes
The massive grasp of
a Super Bowl goes far beyond your intense fan.
“An event of this
size brings legions of casual viewers,” said James Brown, who hosts
Sunday's four-hour pre-game show on CBS. It even has
“believe-it-or-not, a sizable number of first-time viewers.”
Last year's game
averaged 114.4 million viewers; some knew little about the players or
the game. Not to worry; this year's game is a classic match-up, with
some key people. Let's go way back:
In 1987, two great
quarterbacks met in Pasadena. John Elway led the Denver Broncos; Phil
Simms led the New York Giants ... who were in their first Super Bowl.
standing in the tunnel at the Rose Bowl, ... thinking, 'This is the
greatest thing that's ever happened to me. All my dreams as a kid,'”
His teammates had
different reactions. “One of my offensive linemen, standing next to
me, was crying (and) my starting left tackle was throwing up.”
Giants pulled together. Trailing 10-9 at halftime, they won 39-20; at
one point, Simms completed 10 straight passes.
Those things happen,
Simms said; people say the quarterback gets in a rhythm. “When you
get that confidence, the coach gets it with you. So the play-calling
gets better; everything changes.”
Elway had two more
Super Bowl losses – 42-10 and 55-10 – as part of the AFC's
13-year losing streak. Then he ended both streaks in 1998, beating
the Packers 31-24. The next year he beat the Falcons 34-14; at 38 –
ancient, by football standards – he was named most valuable player
Now jump ahead 17
years. Simms is CBS' Super Bowl analyst; Elway is the Broncos'
In his first season
there, Elway saw the Broncos go 8-8 – their fourth straight
That's when Peyton
Manning – one of the all-time great quarterbacks, but questionable
after a year-long injury – was available; Elway signed him. In the
four regular seasons since then, the Broncos have been 50-14; one
year, Manning was named most valuable player (for the fifth time) but
was promptly drubbed 43-8 in the 2014 Super Bowl.
That put his Super
Bowl record at 1-2 and this season he seemed unlikely to get another
try. “It was incredible, the turn of events for him,” Simms said.
At 39 and battered
by injuries, Manning missed six games and should have missed another.
Playing while hurt, he attempted 20 passes, with only five
completions (for 35 yards), four interceptions and a benching. People
assumed his career was over.
But the Broncos
played well with back-up Brock Osweiler and then with Manning
returning. He edged two longtime foes (Ben Roethlisberger and Tom
Brady), to become the oldest Super Bowl quarterback.
Manning would be the
full focus – if it weren't for the emergence of the Carolina
Panthers' Cam Newton. “His talent, his personality is like nothing
we've seen in the NFL,” Simms said.
Neither man had a
strong passing year; Newton ranked 16th in the NFL,
Manning 27th. But Newton ran for 636 yards and 10
touchdowns; over the past eight seasons, Manning has totalled
The Panthers have
soared – and been overlooked. “They rode into Dallas at 10-0 ...
and they were the underdog,” said Jim Nantz, who will do the Super
Bowl play-by-play for CBS. “People haven't really caught up with
how good they are.”
The Panthers were
15-1 in the regular season, took their play-off games 31-24 and 49-15
and have a dynamic quarterback. “He's 26 years old,” Nantz said.
“He's bound to be the future face of this game.”
But now he meets one
of the past faces. Manning has done it all – except to win a second
Super Bowl, like his boss (Elway) did at the end of his career. Now
he gets perhaps his last chance.
-- Super Bowl
kick-off, 6:35 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS
-- James Brown
anchors “Super Bowl Today” from 2-6 p.m.; other previews start at