Who going into Championship weekend is under the most pressure to succeed for their legacy? Tom Brady of the Patriots, Peyton Manning of the Broncos, Carson Palmer of the Cardinals, or Cam Newton of the Panthers?
Cam Newton: The Carolina QB has the least amount of pressure to win, and might be the loosest going into the NFL Conference Championship. Cam has only been in the league 5 years he’ll have more time to get back to this point, provided he stays healthy. There’s always the “Dan Marino” factor, but, I’m sure he’s not thinking of that. Marino has been on record as saying that he wish he would’ve taken more in during his only Super Bowl appearance (Super Bowl XIX ) in the 17 years he spent in the NFL. He always thought he’d be back…but never was.
Tom Brady: “Mr. New England” has some pressure, but, it is so miniscule it hardly counts. Brady has been on this stage before, on both ends winning and losing. So, he really doesn’t need to win it all, his legacy is secure as one of the greatest QB’s in the history of the game. Another win is just piling on.
Carson Palmer: Palmer is chasing father time he’s 36 years old, and has substantial pressure. The 2002 Heisman Trophy winner just logged his first play off win last week against the Packers. Palmer has also had his share of injuries, and is one solid hit away from his career being over. This could be his only shot at the Super Bowl, so you know he’s feeling it.
But as far as the most pressure going into this weekend to succeed, then succeed again on February 7th in Santa Clara is Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos. The weight on his mind has to be massive. He knows what has been said about him in the past, on not being able to win the Big Games…he’ll tell you that doesn’t bother him, but, he’s human….it bothers him. His post season record is 12-13, and even though he does have a Super Bowl title, he should have more.
If Peyton can somehow get to Super Bowl 50 and win it, he can then ride off into the sunset as did Elway, and squelch his critics.
Coincidental tidbit to keep in mind for the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl: Green Bay QB Bart Starr who won Super Bowl I in 1967 threw 9 touchdowns against 17 interceptions during the regular season. Guess what Peyton’s numbers are this season … that’s right, 9 touchdowns against 17 interceptions….cue the “X-Files” theme.
(Photos courtesy of: latimes, sportige, craveonline, cbssports, biography, sportsquotient)