SEATTLE – Who will you root for in the Super Bowl now that the Seahawks are not in it? From the looks of the early chatter on social media, it appears most (not all) are on the side of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos rather than Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Check out reactions to the question on our KING5 Facebook page Monday morning.
Why is that? After all, the Seahawks and Broncos were hated rivals for 25 years in the AFC West.
Here are five possible reasons.
The “I hate Cam Newton” theory
This clearly is the most common.
"Denver all the way. Cam have no class after his wins. He needs go to old school of respect of the fans from others team. Peyton has class he is from old school," writes one fan on our Facebook page.
"Broncos all day. Can't stand classless Newton," writes another.
A lot has been made this season of Cam Newton’s antics. His first down celebration. His “Superman” touchdown celebration. His “dabbing.” His team photos on the sidelines before the game even ends.
Fans of opposing teams have written letters complaining about Newton. They include one from a Seahawks fan named “Sarah” which went viral last week, calling Newton “classless” after he grabbed a 12 Flag and threw it to the ground. One person even launched an online petition to ban Newton from CenturyLink Field.
To be fair, it’s important to note Newton hands footballs to kids in the stands after every rushing touchdown he scores and he encourages teammates to do the same. He’s been recognized for his foundation which has donated more than $400,000 to public school systems since 2012. He hosted families of victims of last year’s church shooting in Charleston, S.C.
Then there are some who say he shouldn’t be the league’s MVP, even suggesting he’s not the MVP of his own team let alone the NFL. How much of this is simple dislike of Newton is hard to quantify. But (spoiler alert) he’s going to win the MVP.
The “I’m too young to remember” theory
"Panthers will win because they are the best team in the NFL. Then most of us will laugh at the salty (and hypocritical) 2012s. FYI: Real Hawk would never root for the Broncos and 98% of you don't even know why lol," wrote one person.
Some critics of bandwagon fans will assume that only Seahawks fans who joined the club in 2012 don’t know about the old Seahawks-Broncos rivalry. That’s not necessarily true.
The Seahawks left the AFC West 14 seasons ago. That means any Seahawks fan born in 2002 or later wasn’t even alive for it. That means any Seahawks fan born in 1998 or later probably doesn’t remember it. That means any Seahawks fan born in 1993-1994 or later is too young to really appreciate it.
If a Seahawks fan doesn’t remember the Steve Largent hit on Mike Harden, there’s a pretty good reason. That happened 27 years ago. A fan would have to be near their mid-30s or older to really recall that game.
The “Ride into the sunset” theory
"Denver! Peyton needs one more Super Bowl before he retires!" wrote one fan.
Peyton Manning is considered to be one of the good guys of the NFL. Some of this is due to his playing ability. Some of this is due to his charisma. Some is due to the fact that, despite all his accomplishments, he’s only 1-2 in the Super Bowl.
One of those two losses was the decimation by the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. Although Seahawks fans loved having one of the most dominant wins in Super Bowl history against a team that set offensive records, you had to feel a little sorry for the way Manning lost that game.
"I am not a fan of Elway, but considering how we embarrassed Peyton in XLVIII, I'm pulling for Peyton to exit a winner and drop the mic as he leaves," wrote one fan.
Only Manning knows if he'll retire after Super Bowl 50. But if he wins, it would be the perfect time to step down -- on top.
The “Panthers is the Seahawks new rival” theory
The Panthers and Seahawks are building the next great non-divisional rivalry in the NFL. They have met six times in the last four years. The Seahawks won the first four. The Panthers swept Seattle this season. All but one of those six games were decided by a touchdown or less. These teams have represented the NFC in each of the last three Super Bowls. And they will meet again next season in Seattle.
Both teams have solid foundations both on the field and in the front office. If they continue to manage the salary cap well and keep their stars around, they will be Super Bowl contenders for many years to come.
Some have suggested Cam Newton and Russell Wilson rivalry is the next Tom Brady – Peyton Manning, not necessarily because of what kind of quarterbacks they are but because of their popularity and success early in their careers. Wilson and Newton are the new breed of quarterback and they’ll see a lot more of each other down the road.
The “underdog” theory
The oldest, tried and true theory. The Broncos are early 5 ½-point underdogs two weeks before kickoff. Even with the best defense in the league, there are those who doubt the 39-year-old Manning with his diminished skills has enough left in the tank to lead his team to victory.
The Panthers almost went undefeated. They will be the third team to play in the Super Bowl after a 15-1 season – the previous two won it. Those who are tired of the Panthers would love to see them get knocked off in the biggest game.
What Broncos supporters can hang their hat on is this. Denver goes in as the No. 1 overall defense. Teams with this title are 9-2 in the Super Bowl. (The Seahawks have been on both sides of this. They had the No. 1 total defense in 2013 when they beat the Broncos. They repeated the defensive title in 2014 but lost to the Patriots.)