By: Sean Begin
On Sunday, the Denver Broncos will face the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII (that’s 48 for the Roman numeral challenged like me). The game is taking place at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, a decision that hasn’t exactly been met with much enthusiasm.
If you’re interested even a little in the Super Bowl, you know a cold weather game is basically a dumb idea. Let’s be honest, no one wants to play football in the freezing cold and snow. Just ask the Packers and Niners after their NFC Division game from Lambeau Field that had temperatures in the double digit negatives.
But that’s not what this column is about. The Super Bowl-is-going-to-be-cold story has been beaten to death. This column is about why I want the Broncos to win.
Sports writers are taught not pick sides in a game. We need to remain impartial and objective in our analysis of sport. But really, that’s a load. Sports is all about picking sides and rooting for someone. So since I’m not covering the game and don’t need to be impartial, I’m rooting for Denver.
Or, more specifically, I’m rooting for Peyton Manning.
Now, on the surface, this seems like an obvious and cliché decision. But when you consider again how he ended up in Denver combined with the season he had, it’s tough to want to root against him.
Following Manning’s lost 2011 season due to multiple neck surgeries, the Colts unceremoniously dumped him to the waiver wire to avoid having to pay him a $28 million signing bonus for 2012 and elected instead to draft Andrew Luck number one overall in the 2012 draft.
Thus began Manning’s westward odyssey to Colorado and the welcoming embrace of John Elway, who won two Super Bowls with the Broncos in the twilight of his career: a twilight that Manning is now intimately familiar with.
So there’s a nice bit of symmetry in Manning winning another Super Bowl in Denver at the tail end of a Hall of Fame career, just like the last guy who won a Super Bowl for Denver, who now serves as an executive in that same front office.
It’s a storyteller’s dream, essentially writing itself but no less amazing and no less worth respecting.
Then there’s the fact that Manning has struggled so mightily in the post season throughout his illustrious career. A clear Hall of Famer once he retires, Manning finally moved back to a .500 record in the postseason with his two victories this year, sitting at 11-11 headed into the Super Bowl.
The disparity between his regular season success and his postseason success is striking. But it makes this Super Bowl so much more meaningful, especially considering the record breaking season he had with that highly prolific offense, breaking Tom Brady’s single season touchdown record with 55 TDs.
It only seems appropriate that Manning cap off his best season as a quarterback with his second Super Bowl victory.
Not to mention, there’s only a couple more years of Manning the quarterback left before he becomes Manning the coach or Manning the broadcaster or whatever future in football Manning sees for himself once he hangs up his pads for good.
Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and the Seahawks are a mightily good team, and will remain at the top of the NFL for some years to come. It’s not inconceivable that they see another Super Bowl run, maybe as soon as next season.
But this year, it’s hard to root against the legend of Peyton Manning.