If the late Nashville Banner sports writer Edgar Allen had lived to see Super Bowl 50, I’m confident he would not recognize it.
Edgar was one of the few members of the media to cover the first Super Bowl It was played on Jan. 15, 1957. It was no big deal. It was the World Championship and become Super Bowl I later. It was played in Los Angeles’ Memorial Coliseum.
Sports Editor Fred Russell had some friends in the NFL office and sent Edgar to cover what was then an unknown game that the public had little interest in.
Little did they know what it would later become the biggest football game in the world, played on the largest stage.
The media and players in the Pro Bowl stayed in the same hotel. The would play their game the next day.
Tickets ranged from $6 to $12 for the World Championship Game. They could not give them away.
Checking out of his hotel, Edgar was approached by some Pro Bowl players. They asked him if they could catch a ride with him to the stadium.
Sure, he said. We will carry your typewriter for you, they offered.
Off they went.
Green Bay, coached by the legendary Vince Lombardi, won the game against the American Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs. Packers quarterback Bart Starr would complete 16 of 23 passes as the Pack won, 35-10. Starr was MVP.
There was no monster postgame ceremony with confetti filling the sky. There were no postgame interview sessions, no Twitter, no Instagram, no Periscope. No blogs. No dabbing in the locker room.
Edgar walked into the Packers locker room and spotted Lombardi. Lombardi was by himself. Edgar introduced himself. The two strangers sat down and had a one-on-one conversation about the game.
Imagine that happening today. It would never happen. The Super Bowl has gone mega-corporate. Some will say it has gotten too big for its britches. I could be persuaded to agree with that.
The game has become secondary. It’s all about entertainment. All about Super Bowl parties. All about grading the commercials. All about who sings the National Anthem. All about the halftime show.
Pregame shows start earlier in Super Bowl week. The game is analyzed by anyone who ever played football, others who never did. It truly continues until even the most fervent NFL fan has migraines before kickoff.
If by now you don’t know anything about Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Denver’s quarterback Peyton Manning, you have been vacationing in a third world country.
It will likely be Manning’s final game of what has been a Hall of Fame career. If his team wins, you can look for Manning to walk away a winner.
Even if they lose, and they are the underdog, Manning should call it a day and ride off into the sunset for the rest of whatever he re-invents for himself. His playing days are over and it will be interesting to see in which direction Manning will go. He will not be short of offers.
Newton is the quarterback of the future. He is physically bigger, stronger, faster than any quarterback playing today. Newton is the whole package.
Not only does he have his dance routines after he scores, he seeks a young kid in the stadium (even at away games) and gives them a game ball, which I like.
I believe the Panthers are the best team. They have the edge on both side of the trenches and that is where big, evenly matched games are usually won.
Yes, the Super Bowl has morphed into something that can affect first time players who play in it. The question is will the Super Bowl spotlight affect Cam Newton. I think not.
Can Manning overcome his health problems, his 39 years, his loss of arm strength and mobility? If anyone can, Peyton Manning can.
I see Carolina winning in a low scoring game, 27-24.
As for the Pro Bowl: They need to have a memorial service for what has become a joke.
Edgar would have to carry his own typewriter.
Joe Biddle is a Sports Columnist for wkrn.com. He is a member of the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s Hall of Fame. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.