On Sunday two elite quarterbacks will take the field after leading their team through a tournament featuring the NFL’s best, but they each did so in very different ways.
Cam “Superman” Newton rushed on to the scene in 2011 as the first overall pick in the NFL draft after winning the Heisman Trophy and a National Championship at Auburn. Many NFL analysts believed that Newton would struggle adjusting to the NFL and that his unique skill set would not translate to the quarterback position as it had in college. Newton proved the skeptics wrong in his historic rookie campaign as he set numerous rookie records, most notably most total yards by a rookie quarterback (4,799) and most touchdowns by a rookie (35, 21 pass and 14 rush).
Much of what led Newton to his early success is his dual-threat style of play. Newton is a new breed of NFL quarterback that has the ability to run for big gains in addition to throwing the ball. There has been a wave of such quarterbacks coming to the NFL, but Newton is among the top as he has won the NFL rushing touchdown title among quarterbacks in four of his first five years while leading his team to the playoffs in each of the past three seasons.
Newton also brings a degree of showmanship that has never been seen in the NFL. Whether it’s his signature “dab” touchdown celebration or his pre-game antics of tearing down opposing fans’ banners, his enthusiasm and passion are always present. Newton is enjoying himself as he prepares to win the ultimate title for the first time in his young career.
Cam Newton is revolutionizing the game of football through a fresh style of play, uncanny athleticism and elaborate showmanship. Newton is taking the NFL by storm and is becoming the face of a new era of football.
Peyton Manning also known as “The Sheriff” due to the way he “lays down the law” on opposing defenses, is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Newton. Manning was highly touted and viewed as someone whose game would translate immediately to the NFL when he came out of college nearly two decades ago. He went on to set many rookie records, some of which were later broken by Newton.
Manning’s game is founded on the fundamentals of throwing and the academic aspect of football, which is very different from Newton’s new school approach, while both are very successful. While Newton rushed for 10 touchdowns this past season, Manning has rushed for only one through the previous six seasons combined. Manning is aging, so as of late he has been forced to rely more heavily on his football intelligence and situational awareness rather than arm strength.
The consummate professional, Manning doesn’t have much showmanship outside of his spectacular play. He is regarded as one of the best to play the position and will enter Sunday with a multitude of previous successes and experiences. Through his 18-year career, Manning has made the playoffs all but three seasons, has been selected to the Pro Bowl 14 times, has been named NFL MVP five times and has won one Super Bowl.
Manning is what comes to mind when you think of the classic NFL quarterback. No matter his age, his style of play is certainly not outdated as he will be playing for the greatest accomplishment in all of football. Number 18 will look to add one more ring to his fabled career, as the end may be near for an aging Manning.
It is only fitting that the historic Super Bowl 50 will feature two generations of the NFL quarterback; one that is looking to build a legacy while evolving the position, and one that is looking to ride off into the sunset with one more taste of glory.
Collegian Sports Reporter Alec Grimes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @GrimesAlec.