February 7, 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the National Football League’s (NFL) Super Bowl. It was a showdown between the #1 seed Denver Broncos and the #1 seed Carolina Panthers. The Broncos were representing the American Football Conference (AFC) with a 12-4 regular season record. The Panthers were representing the National Football Conference (NFC) with a 15-1 regular season record. The Broncos came into the game with the #1 total defense in the NFL, which helped them win playoff games over the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots. The Panthers bolstered the #1 scoring offense, which allowed them to win playoff games over the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. If those storylines weren’t enough, this game would have the old verses new quarterback. Peyton Manning was looking to cement his legacy with another championship and ride off into the sunset, while current MVP Cam Newton was trying to begin his legacy. Something had to give in this game?
What gave in the game was the Panthers. They dropped several passes, committed three costly turnovers, and allowed six sacks to Cam. The Broncos defense was suffocating all night long. They completely dominated the game and walked away with a 24-10 win. Von Miller led the defense with six tackles, two and a half sacks, and two forced fumbles. One fumble lead to a touchdown and the other setup a touchdown. It was obvious that Miller would be the Super Bowl MVP. Manning now has two championships, and can no longer be picked on by little brother Eli who has two as well. Whether Manning retires or not remains to be seen. I know of nine people who could offer him some advice.
During this “golden” Super Bowl game, it was an honor to talk to nine retired players about their experiences during their Super Bowl and other professional games:
Otis Sistrunk – Oakland Raiders, Super Bowl XI Champion
Oliver Davis – Cincinnati Bengals, Super Bowl XVI Player
Monk Johnson – San Francisco 49ers
Billy Jackson – Kansas City Chiefs
Cleo Walker – Green Bay Packers
Claude Brownlee – Miami Dolphins
Frank Brown – Dallas Cowboys
Steve Reese – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Thermus Butler – Edmonton Eskimos
Each of the players talked about how the NFL has become a “two-hand touch” league. They mentioned that the physical aspect of the game has been taken away to allow the fans to enjoy more offense. The hitting of the quarterback has become almost obsolete. Another point of conversation was what is considered a catch now or not. All the players attended local high schools in the greater Columbus, GA area. They returned to honor three pioneers of the game: Ernie Green of the Cleveland Browns, Frank Brown of the Dallas Cowboys, and the late Herman Lee of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears. It was clear to see that these guys loved playing the game of football, but more importantly enjoyed watching from afar now. They made Super Bowl 50 one for the ages.
Pictured from L – R
Seated – Steve Reese