Super Bowl Quarterback Clash and Coaching Matchup with Ties to the Bay
Justin Rossi / EL OBSERVADOR
The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos are in town this week, enjoying their successful runs through the playoffs and getting ready to represent their respective conferences in Super Bowl 50. The teams were able to spend this week enjoying the Bay Area and preparing for game day. With the NFL season coming to a close in a finale of two the best and most consistent teams of the year, the storylines are reaching their dramatic conclusions. Most of the talk has been centered on the quarterbacks.
Peyton Manning is playing in what could very well be the final championship of his career and his team is rallying behind him, pushing for the fairy tale ending to his historic legacy. Coach Kubiac said the team is trying to win this game for Peyton and that the team is more prepared than they were two seasons ago when they fell to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 48. “We have all of our guys healthy this year, guys want it more this year”, said Chris Harris Jr. on the difference between this years superbowl. For Peyton’s part, he is preparing how he always does. “Peyton has been Peyton, and I expect him to play like Peyton”, said Kubiac. The challenge for these Broncos is to overcome the opposing teams star quarterback. That responsibility will mostly fall on Von Miller and Demarcus Ware who harassed Tom Brady all game long in the AFC championship game. Von Miller says they’re ready, “There is nothing Demarcus Ware hasn’t seen, pre-snap, cadences.
We’re not going to let Cam run around”. Easier said than done, as no team in the NFL has been able to contain Super Cam. At 6 foot 5 inches and 250 lbs, with athleticism and speed to spare at the quarterback position, he has been a matchup nightmare. On top of his improving passing game, he has evolved as a leader, playing with an infectious joy that boots the morale of his team and has elevated his game to the point where we are talking about Cam Newton as the new face of the NFL. When asked if he was the Lebron James of quarterbacks, Cam responded by saying “Why can’t Lebron be the Cam Newton of power forwards?”. Clearly he has the talent, the personality and the team to be the new face of the NFL, and winning this game would go a long way in cementing that.
With all the hype surrounding the quarterbacks, there is another matchup of leaders in this game. One with deeper ties to Super Bowls and the Bay Area. That is the matchup of head coaches. Kubiak is a veteran of three Super Bowls as a player and an additional three as an assistant coach. He seemed comfortable on media day and ready for his first Super Bowl experience as a head coach. For Ron Rivera, head coach of the Carolina Panthers, this will be his third Super Bowl experience. He won one as a player for the Chicago Bears and lost another as an assistant coach, against the Peyton Manning led Indianapolis Colts. This is a homecoming for Ron Rivera who grew up in the Monterey area and studied at Cal after high school. In 1981 Rivera and Kubiac had their first matchup in Texas A&M’s season opening 29-28 victory over Cal. At the time, Kubiac was a junior quarterback while Rivera was a sophomore linebacker.
This time around, Rivera wants to make history with a win. He would be the second Latino head coach to ever go to a Super Bowl after Tom Flores. Rivera, of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent, looked up to Tom Flores and the other Hispanic role models of the league at the time and hoped he could follow in their footsteps. “I was one of those guys who just really enjoyed watching the game. I loved a lot of them. When you talk about me and my Hispanic heritage, it was Tom Flores and Jim Plunkett, guys like that, Roman Gabriel. Guys I could look up to and really aspire to be like them.” He understands where he came from and praised his parents for helping him achieve his goals and get to where he is today, “Everything that I am and everything that I’ve grown up to become is because of them”. Rivera wants to win this game and dedicate the win to the Latino community.
The fact that he is somebody that Latinos can look up to for inspiration is something he does not take for granted, “I really do appreciate the fact that I’m a role model and I take that very seriously, I’ve had the opportunity to go back to my hometown and speak at a graduation. The one thing that I try to tell is, don’t let anybody tell you no. Whatever you want, whatever you dream your dream is, go out and get it. Don’t let anyone tell you no that doesn’t have the power to tell you yes”. The added responsibility is pushing Rivera the extra mile in trying to achieve his team’s goal of winning the Super Bowl.