Super Bowl Preview Part 1: Debunking Two Big Media Storylines

Posted: 02/07/2016 by levcohen in Football

I think we’ve all had enough of the big, flashy storylines the media has talked up in the context of the Super Bowl. While I understand that the media has to stir up some debate during the two weeks between the NFC and AFC Championship games and the Super Bowl, it’s really hard to bare at times. And while some of the topics that the media brings up are certainly worth talking about and will have a huge bearing on the outcome of the game, I can think of two in particular that are especially exasperating and overblown if not downright false. Predictably, both of the two have everything to do with the quarterbacks, who also happen to be the highest-profile players in the game.

Myth One: Cam Newton is a divisive figure, and race has everything to do with it.
Time after time, I’ve seen headlines about why you shouldn’t dislike Cam Newton and why “X” writer doesn’t understand how someone could dislike Newton. With those headlines has came the predictable, easy crutch of the “race card.” Guess what? ALMOST NOBODY dislikes Cam Newton, and the media is, as Charles Barkley said, intentionally framing the narrative of the Super Bowl into “black versus white, good versus evil.” In my mind, Newton is one of the most likeable star quarterbacks in recent memory, and I haven’t seen much that would suggest the contrary. Everyone loves his smile, and the only people who criticize the “antics” that so clearly come from a love and passion for the game of football are very traditional and old-fashioned NFL fans (and, let me add, only a small subset of even those fans). When you compare that very positive view of Newton to the popular opinion of classic whiners (cheaters?) like Tom Brady, the results are clear. And in what way is Newton different than Russell Wilson, a well-liked black quarterback who played against white QBs in each of the last two Super Bowls? Well, there are those “antics,” but then again, white quarterback Johnny Manziel gets a certain amount of flak for his on-field “antics.” The only reason this might have something to do with race is because that’s how the media has portrayed it. Ironically, the only star quarterback who might be as well-liked as Newton — aside from Wilson — is the guy on the other side, which, of course, leads us to myth two.

Myth Two: On the Other Side, the Game is All. About. Peyton.
Look, I understand why the media has written so much about Peyton Manning the last two weeks. He’s one of the iconic figures in the NFL, and this could well be the last game of his career. So yeah, I get why people are taking this time as an opportunity to celebrate Manning. But while that’s fine, calling Manning the game’s likely decider is a little much. He’s important, sure, but that’s mainly because the quarterback generally is. I think the past two weeks would have been better spent talking about Denver’s terrific defense, about the run game, or even about Demaryius Thomas and his tendency to disappear in big games. At this point in the season, we’ve established that Manning is mainly a game manager. He might make a few big plays, but he has almost no arm strength at this point, and there’s no chance that he has one of those Peyton Manning games. In fact, the Broncos had better hope that the game doesn’t hinge on Manning, because if it does, I think it’s more likely it will hinge on a Peyton mistake than on a 60-yard touchdown strike.

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