Skip to main content

Around the League

Presented By

What will we learn from Super Bowl Opening Night?

SAN FRANCISCO -- It's that special time of year again. Super Bowl Week.

Seven days of madness and grandeur kick off in earnest with Monday evening's Opening Night, a newly-fashioned prime-time version of Media Day that will air on NFL Network starting at 8 p.m. ET.

The event will serve as our first look at the Panthers and Broncos here in San Francisco, as both teams begin preparation for Super Bowl 50.

So what do we hope to learn tonight? Let's take a gander:

1. Peyton Manning's future: Denver's gaggle of reporters threw nothing but softballs at Manning last week, but the 39-year-old Broncos quarterback will be asked repeatedly about his potential retirement on Monday night. After NFL Films caught Peyton telling Patriots coach Bill Belichick that this might be his "last rodeo," Manning efficiently swatted down questions about calling it quits after 18 seasons under center. He might not be ready to reveal his decision, but that won't stop scribes and television types from peppering him with questions all week. Don't expect to get an answer until after the game.

2. Josh Norman: The Panthers cornerback has been one of the league's most dependable cover men this season. He's also been a consistent quote machine, religiously fueling his straw-man argument that the Panthers don't get enough attention. "I don't think other people really give us that much (respect)," Norman said after the team's 15-1 finish to the regular season. With Carolina seen as the clear favorite in Super Bowl 50, we'll be watching to see how Norman props up Sunday's big game as another chip-on-the-shoulder call to arms for the completely ignored Panthers.

3. Cam Time: Carolina's Cam Newton has been the league's best quarterback this season and a joy to watch from wire to wire. He's also great with the media and a sure-fire gamble to be the center of attention during Opening Night. The contrast between Manning -- a passer at the end of his Hall of Fame journey -- and Newton -- a young superstar just beginning to write history -- sits at the center of this championship matchup. After watching Russell Wilson, Tom Brady and Peyton rattle off robotic responses to every query thrown their way during the past two Media Days, Cam promises to serve as a breath of fresh air.

4. Who will emerge as the most annoying media goon? Opening Night -- now bigger than ever -- promises to attract a raucous horde of journalists from every corner of the globe. Getting within five feet of a player often requires pushing through a hulking, fleshy mess of television reporters, aggro cameramen and sub-human clowns dressed up as superheroes in an attempt to turn the entire event into a collage of intolerable madness. Around The NFL is tasked with gathering information during this swarm of nonsense, so pray for us all.

5. A closer look at both coaching staffs: Carolina's Ron Rivera and Denver's Gary Kubiak are here for the first time as head coaches. Both have suffered through their share of ugly seasons, making this climb to the mountaintop all the more meaningful. Beyond the top two guys, though, Opening Night offers a rare chance to meet with coordinators and assistants for both teams. These loyal underlings often provide the best information about their squads, so we'll be keeping tabs on Denver's talented defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, and Carolina's unsung offensive play-caller, Mike Shula.

6. Who will steal the show? Manning and Cam will get plenty of attention, but both teams house players and coaches who love to talk. Who's the best bet to say something outrageous? Here's a quick top five: (1) Josh Norman (2) Von Miller (3) Aqib Talib (4) Mike Tolbert and (5) Broncos outside linebackers aide Fred Pagac (Ok, not him).

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content