What the Legacy of Peyton Manning Means to Me.

By: John Richardson

   “With the first pick of the 1998 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select quarterback Peyton Manning from the University of Tennessee!”  Those words announced by then NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue changed the game of football forever.  


   Manning went from a Louisiana kid who happened to be the son of a famous football quarterback, to becoming a famous, beloved quarterback himself. Manning is a 5-time NFL MVP, 14-time Pro Bowl Nominee and 2-time Super Bowl Champion with one Super Bowl MVP award.  He also holds the record for the most interceptions thrown by a rookie quarterback in his rookie season.


  He is a father, a brother, a son and a role model to kids everywhere, including myself.


  It all started for me when my mom brought home a couple of Peyton Manning football cards that I still own to this day.  From then on I was a hooked Manning fan. The reason I loved Manning’s game so much was because of the way he played it.  He was the most focused and prepared player in the history of the NFL in my opinion.  


  Not once during a game did I see Manning on the sidelines doing anything other than studying plays or talking on the phone to the booth. Manning had a fire about him that I just cannot compare to anyone else. In my opinion, he was and always will be the greatest quarterback of all time.  He will always be my favorite player and my inspiration.


  Throughout my life I would wait for one season and one day of the week during that season: Sunday!  I loved waking up and going to church and then anxiously waiting with friends and family to watch the Indianapolis Colts and their star player Peyton Manning.  He was the reason I started loving the game of football.


   He taught me to be a good person, a focused athlete and the best that I could be. Even though Manning is a quarterback and it may seem odd that an offensive lineman would see him as his favorite player, I do. I would do anything to block for him and protect him from oncoming defenders.  I cannot imagine the thrill his linemen got from blocking for him every week and getting to know him throughout the offseason and season itself.  


   I know they loved it because he praised his linemen. Without them, he knew he couldn’t make a pass or hand the ball off. That’s one of the things I loved the most: his humbleness.  He never took credit for anything, never boasted and never considered himself the best quarterback.


  Manning left behind the greatest legacy any NFL player would love to go out on when he decided to retire this year. He finished after 18 seasons, his number was 18. His last season ended with Super Bowl 50 and he and his team won it.  Manning, we love you, we will miss you, but we will not forget you. Thank you for the past 18 years that you were a part of my life and all the lives of other fans everywhere.


  We all will miss you, number 18.

Panthers and Broncos to Face Off in Superbowl 50

Feb. 7 marks the 50th Super Bowl. The AFC champion Denver Broncos (14-4) will square off against the NFC champion Carolina Panthers (17-1) at Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco, with kickoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The Broncos are coming off of a stellar defensive performance against defending Super Bowl champions New England Patriots, winning the AFC Championship 20-18, while the Panthers are coming off of two dominant performances over the Seattle Seahawks 31-24 and the Arizona Cardinals 49-15. With Cam Newton leading the way for Carolina against the relentless Denver defense, it is sure to be a Super Bowl for the ages.


The Panthers are in the midst of their most successful season in franchise history with a nearly perfect record. They won 14 straight games before falling to the Atlanta Falcons, 13-20. Since then they have won three games in electrifying fashion. Quarterback Cam Newton is considered by most to be the best player in football today, and is the favorite to win the MVP. He has thrown for 3,837 yards, 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while also rushing for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns. Newton’s top target is tight end Greg Olsen who has 1,104 receiving yards and seven touchdowns; he also has speedy receiver Ted Ginn with 739 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns this year. Carolina’s offensive attack also includes their workhorse running back Jonathan Stewart who has rushed for 989 yards and six touchdowns this season.


The Broncos have had, yet again, another successful season full of big wins. However their leader and quarterback Peyton Manning has had perhaps his worst statistical season in his career. Granted he only played in 10 games, he passed for 2249 yards, nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions. This past season has not resembled the Peyton Manning of previous years, but he has been able to get the job done so far with the help of his defense. Denver’s defense is considered by most the best in the league, holding opponents to just 18.5 points per game. Their defense features outside linebacker Von Miller who has 11 sacks, along with inside linebackers Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan who both have recorded over 100 tackles, and cornerback Aqib Talib with three interceptions this season.


These teams match up very interestingly, considering they have opposite strengths. The Panthers average 31.2 points a game while the Broncos only allow 18.5. Where the Panthers have been underrated is their defensive production, they still only allow 19.2 points per game to their opponents. The Broncos only score about 22.2 points a game, and this is where they look weaker as an overall team. In order for Denver to win, Manning must put up points one way or another to keep up with Newton. I think Denver can trust their defense to limit Newton and the Panthers to under 30 points. In order for the Panthers to prevail, they must protect Newton and mix up their offensive plays to keep Denver guessing. The Broncos defense needs to do everything they can to frustrate Newton, which means sacks and interceptions.


My Prediction: Panthers 27, Broncos 17

The game will come down to strategy and execution. Who will show up to win? We’ll find out Sunday, Feb. 7 at 6:30 p.m.