EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey — This Super Bowl has just about everything a fan, a player, a coach — and certainly a league — could ask for.
Denver’s record-setting offense versus Seattle’s relentlessly stingy defense. Coaches who actually smile and think football should be fun. A wintry setting, and the best two teams in the NFL.
“It’s very special to be here,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said of today’s big game. “Look at this event that our players are having to take part of. The game, the matchup, the culmination of the season, all of this is just extraordinary.”
This Super Bowl could also have a profound effect on the immediate future of pro football.
It may be a referendum on whether the NFL’s showpiece event should ever again be held outdoors in a cold-weather city. But more likely is it being a strong indicator about the future of the quarterback position.
The game will feature the classic pocket passer — Denver’s veteran Peyton Manning, who has had an extraordinary season.
Against him is Seattle’s quick-footed, quick-witted scrambler Russell Wilson, who represents the new guard along with the likes of Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, even Andrew Luck.
Seattle’s miserly defense wants to force Manning into uncomfortable territory, which means anywhere outside the passing pocket. Denver’s defense will be intent on giving Wilson a taste of claustrophobia by keeping him hemmed in the pocket.
Both QB approaches work for their offenses, or else these two teams wouldn’t be facing off for the championship. The quarterback differences — aside from age, time of service in the pros, or even their height — Manning is about 6 inches taller than Wilson — make this Super Bowl even more intriguing.
There will always be a place in anyone’s starting lineup for a Peyton Manning, who deserves strong consideration in the debate about the greatest quarterback in history, regardless of whether he adds a second Super Bowl ring.
Whether most teams will stick with convention or choose mobile, creative and elusive passers such as Wilson won’t be decided by who wins at the Meadowlands. But it could play a significant role.
“As a talent evaluator for college and even free agency, the toughest thing to evaluate is process,” Broncos quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp said. “Can the guy process in the pocket during the heat of battle?”