When Peyton Manning was chosen as the 1st overall draft pick in 1998, Cam Newton was still losing baby teeth and watching Saturday morning cartoons.
Thirteen years, 11 Pro-Bowls 4 league MVPs and a Super Bowl later, Newton was also picked 1st overall, won Offensive Rookie of the Year and made his own trip to the Pro-Bowl.
On Sunday, Manning and Newton go head to head, as opposite as two 1st-pick QBs can be. One, a freak at mental precision, the other a dynamic threat with rockets for legs.
Adding to the fun is Broncos LB Von Miller, who was chosen right behind Newton in the 2011 draft. After each winning Rookie of the Year awards, Miller and Newton are in the midst of their sophomore season.
While Newton seems to be slumping, Miller is certainly shining. With 25 solo tackles, 9 sacks on the season and 1 forced fumble, Miller is certain to dance his way into a second Pro-Bowl.
Meanwhile, the Panthers are 2-6 and sit last in the NFC South. Last season, Newton set the Rookie single-season passing record with 4,051yds, had 21 passing touchdowns and 14 rushing touchdowns on the season.
This year, through 8 games, Newton has racked up a respectable 1,902yds but only has 6 passing touchdowns and 4 rushing. He looks to be falling behind his rookie debut.
Still, the Orange Crush defense are doing all they can to prepare themselves for Newton’s dual threat.
“He’s a big, strong guy,” Miller said to reporter Sam Davis. “I don’t think he gets enough credit for being able to shed defenders.”
“When he runs, he is hard to get down,” adds corner Champ Bailey. “He’ll make you look stupid, and he has a cannon.”
Granted, the Panthers have faced some stiff competition this season, against the league-leading Falcons, last years’ Super Bowl champion Giants, a surprising Seattle team and the vastly improved Bears.
So, knowing that the defense is not going to underestimate Carolina puts my mind at ease.
A fourth-straight Bronco victory looks to be on the horizon, after a well-played game of first-rounders. Manning may have 12 years experience on Newton, but that little tyke has some weapons.
Besides, all is fair in love and sports…or something like that.