Super Bowl 50 not about race

Super Bowl 50 has captured the imagination of the nation. Ever since the final games of the regular season concluded, celebrations began. The past two weeks leading up to the game has been a frenzy of activity, and we’ve all been inundated with the hype.

Quite literally, the world will be the stage for this monumental gala. There is so much significance surrounding the event, not the least of which will be the number 50. Up until now, going back to the first Super Bowl, Roman numerals were used to signify which “bowl” was being played, ala “Super Bowl III,” “Super Bowl IV,” etc. This time, at the half-century mark, the powers-that-be didn’t want anyone to be confused with odd-looking Roman numeral symbols.

The actual game itself, though the centerpiece, and the reason for this gala, is really a footnote to the real reason for the game, which is money. First of all, the average price of tickets, the price of admission, far exceeds the financial capability of most people, foreign or domestic. The fans viewing the game from the stands and stadium skyboxes either saved all year to attend, have the immediate in-pocket resources to afford it or, come to the game as corporate guests of big companies. San Francisco won the honor to host this spectacle years in advance, decided by the billionaire owners of the league’s teams who rotate the game throughout the country at their pleasure.

There are so many story lines to be written about, just as I’m doing, the marketing aspects, the outlandish costs for commercial air time, those important 30 and 60 second spots where millions of viewers will be enticed to purchase products, and of course, the human interest stories, many involving the athletes themselves. The quarterback position is the most visible and perhaps the most demanding on any football team, and this game’s match-up of quarterbacks is chocked full of material to write about and discuss.

First, we have the veteran Peyton Manning, a member of pro football’s royal family — Archie, father of both Peyton and Eli, all three, great college and professional players. And, there is young, sometimes brash, but always entertaining, Cameron “Cam” Newton, a five-year player and Auburn University graduate. Peyton has been the consummate professional, great at the University of Tennessee and Heisman Award finalist, the award young Cam won at Auburn. Both athletes have ably led their respective teams, the Denver Broncos from Colorado and the Carolina Cougars out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Newton’s Cougars, lost only regular season game leading up to the Super Bowl.

The match-up of a competition involving opposing quarterbacks, one black and one white, has been too juicy for the media not to write about. I have been particularly impressed with the class and dignity with which both of these men handle sensitive and sometimes embarrassing questions from the throngs of reporters attempting to put together edgy stories. The issue of race is no longer a substantive issue. What we have now are two great players leading two great teams, and may the best team — and quarterback — win.

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One of our regular community contributors, Jack Jackson is a motivational speaker and EKU Distinguished Alumnus.