I don't know if we call this an advancement or merely a change, but with the Super Bowl coming to Houston next season, one of the things we now need to be prepared for is that Media Day is now a made-for-television prime-time event. For the first time, last night in San Jose, the league took its gaggle of horde-led interviews with players and coaches and turned them into a few hours of television-that-rates-decently-for-a-Monday-night.
This is one skill the NFL has perfected, monetizing every little event, on the field and off the field, into some sort of television content. We see it in the viewership numbers for things like the NFL Combine, anything draft-related, and the various treks to OTAs and training camp throughout the summer months. (The last step, by the way, is televising the Hall of Fame voting process. That would kill.)
Anyway, we got our first prime-time taste of Super Bowl Media Night In America last night, and unfortunately, there were no fighting words uttered or controversial behavior. (Wherefore art thou, Marshawn Lynch?) The closest thing we got was Cam Newton's assessment of the game, which might have raised eyebrows if the spread were closer on this one. (As of this morning, the Panthers were favored by 6.5 points.):
"If they're at their best and we're at our best, we're going to win. We have different ways to attack the defense and I feel as if we're at our best and the other team is at their best, not just speaking of the Denver Broncos, just any other team," Newton added. "If we're at our best and another team is at their best, we will still win."
Make no mistake, in any Super Bowl build-up week with more evenly matched teams, this would be a scud missile right across the headquarters of the opposition, and we'd all be screaming "OOOHHH WHAAAT?!?" However, the fact that Newton's comments were met with a collective shrug (especially considering that the words were uttered by Cam Newton, Human Lightning Rod, who seems to spark polarization these days when he so much as takes a leak) tells you everything you need to know about where America sees this game going.
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The spread started at four points on Monday and has gradually veered upward to almost a full touchdown. The general consensus is that the Panthers can score 24 points on almost anybody, but where will the Broncos even find 17 points, let alone 25, what with Peyton Manning operating with a wet piece of linguini for a right arm. So Cam Newton's comments are more along the lines of accurate analysis than they are braggadocio.
The Panthers were 17-1 this year, and were beating both of their playoff opponents this postseason like a drum by halftime. So Cam's comments are logical. However, I'll just place this little nugget here on my way out and we can revisit it later this week —- in seven of the past eight Super Bowls, the underdog has covered the spread, and in six of those, has outright won the game.
When the time comes to wager against the Broncos (and in Cam's case, y'know, actually PLAY AGAINST the Broncos), you might want to proceed with caution.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.