The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers have more in common than just playing each other in Super Bowl 50 this weekend in Santa Clara, California: Both teams have quarterbacks who are men of faith.
As football fans gather Sunday with family and friends (that may or may not only watch the commercials and Coldplay), quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Cam Newton will strive to put their best feet forward.
At age 39, the Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning, will be the oldest quarterback to start in a Super Bowl game. During his career, he has been a five-time MVP for the NFL, and this will be Manning’s fourth Super Bowl (he has one Super Bowl win under his belt from when the Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears in the 2006 season). He’s the first quarterback in history to reach the Super Bowl with four different coaches and to take two different teams to the Super Bowl multiple times each.
- “My faith has been number one since I was 13 years old and heard from the pulpit on a Sunday morning in New Orleans a simple question: ‘If you died today, are you 100 percent sure you’d go to heaven?’” Manning wrote this in his book called “Manning: A Father, His Sons and a Football Legacy” (which he authored with his dad Archie, a former NFL quarterback, and John Underwood).
- He wrote later in the book: “And I committed my life to Christ, and that faith has been most important to me ever since.”
- “Some players get more vocal about it—the Reggie Whites, for example—and some point to Heaven after scoring a touchdown and praise God after games. I have no problem with that. But I don’t do it, and don’t think it makes me any less a Christian. I just want my actions to speak louder,” he wrote in the same book, adding:
- “My faith doesn’t make me perfect, it makes me forgiven, and provides me the assurance I looked for half my life ago.”
- “For me generally it had always been the big four: faith, family, friends, and football[.] … [A]s important as football is to me, it can never be higher than fourth,” he said in “Manning.”
- He also wrote: “Ah, but do I ‘pray for victory?’ No, except as a generic thing. I pray to keep both teams injury free, and personally, that I use whatever talent I have to the best of my ability.”
- “There were a lot of firsts, a lot of firsts for me this year. It’s weird in your 18th season to have so many firsts. But when you sign up to play, you sign up for everything,” he told the The Denver Post in January. He added: “You learn about yourself and how you handle it. That’s been my theme all year: Just keep being a pro. I’ve been through a lot of stuff … but that’s what I drew on during this time: Be a pro. Handle it. And keep the faith.”
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, 26, won college football’s biggest award, the Heisman Trophy, in 2010. He went on to become the Carolina Panthers’ first overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft and became the NFL’s first rookie to throw for more than 400 yards in his first game.
- “I just can’t stop smiling because God has his hands on me,” Newton said after a near fatal truck accident in 2014. “I’m on somebody’s fantasy league. And I think it’s the man upstairs. It’s great to walk away from something like that.”
- “Me being a religious person, God is good. I’m lucky to be standing in front of you guys.”
- “Life is too short for you not to appreciate it to the fullest; through the good and the bad! I thank you to the people who have been keeping me in their prayers and well wishes for a speedy recovery,” he wrote on Instagram. “I am appreciative for the many great things God has given me to be thankful for. It’s an old cliché statement but it says ‘God works in mysterious ways!’”
- He added on Instagram: “So if you read this, I challenge you to live life to the fullness everyday! Love the people who are close to you (and don’t be afraid to tell them as well)! Forgive ‘whoever’ for ‘whatever’ they did! Trust when I tell you that life is to short for you not to do those things!”
- “It’s just a God thing. I thank God every single day. I’m just His instrument and He’s using me on a consistent basis daily,” Newton said in 2011 after winning a college football national championship game.
- “He’s using me to extend his word. I’m a prime example of how God can turn something that was bad into something that was very great.”
- At the Super Bowl media day Monday night, Newton said he was “[a] Super Bowl quarterback, a Heisman Trophy winner, a first-round pick, but more importantly God’s servant.” He went on to thank God and said: “I’m in a position where a lot of people critique every single thing that I do, but yet I’ll be the first to tell you that I’ve made mistakes and whether you’re from Atlanta, whether you’re from California, whether you’re from Georgia, Florida, wherever you’re from, you can be international, you could see that a person made mistakes but yet didn’t linger on those mistakes, and I still had dreams and aspirations and still conquered them all.”
While Manning and Newton are both sure to have their game faces on this weekend, the two have spoken humbly of each other this week.
“Anytime you get compared to Peyton Manning, you must be doing something right. I take it for what it’s worth,” Newton told reporters Monday. He said it is a “tremendous honor to be even mentioned and affiliated with the face of the league.”
As for Manning, he says Newton will be the future face of the NFL. He told reporters Monday about Newton: “He’s just had this incredible year. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to be the MVP on Saturday night. What he’s done in the short time being an NFL quarterback, he’s been awesome. He’s been awesome. That’s the best word I can think of.
“He’s been a great passer, he’s been a great runner, he’s been a great leader. You don’t go 17-1 as a starting quarterback without being awesome. And that’s what he’s been this year without a doubt.”
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