SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA —
Super Bowl 50 is primed for a symbolic passing of the torch from one generation to the next with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning ready to hand off the mantle of greatness to the Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton.
Both teams trained on Wednesday ahead of the big game on Sunday with all eyes on the quarterbacks.
For most of his 18-year-career, Manning has been the National Football League's most bankable player, on and off the field.
Hall of Fame resume
A Hall of Fame resume that includes five most valuable player awards and a slew of significant quarterbacking records provide the statistical evidence that mark Manning out as one of gridiron's all-time greats.
Those numbers also form the foundation for a portfolio of endorsements that have made Manning the NFL's top product pitchman and the "Sheriff" has also become one of the United States' most popular athletes.
"I think it's important to always keep things in perspective and this is a certainly a big game and Coach Kubiak talks about that a lot, about trying to keep things in perspective," Manning said.
But come Sunday there could be a new 'Sheriff' in town.
Newton may not just leave San Francisco with a Super Bowl and an NFL most valuable player award but he could also have one hand on Manning's endorsement crown.
"It's cool," said Newton after practice. "I mean I sound like a broken record. It's a dream for it to play out as it has, through the ups and downs, you know, just means the world to get what you prepare for. For us, the ultimate goal for this sport is to win the Super Bowl."
No. 1 draft picks
Both quarterbacks were No. 1 overall picks in the NFL Draft, Manning taken first by the Indianapolis Colts in 1998 and Newton by the Carolina Panthers in 2011, but that is where the similarities end in playing style and personality.
With his disarming southern drawl, Manning projects a 'good 'ole boy', folksy charm that helps mask an off-the-charts football IQ and a fiery competitiveness. It is a combination of his skill and charm that has made him a marketing dream.
At the other end of the spectrum stands Newton, an imposing 6-foot, 5-inch quarterbacking machine. An African-American with a Superman alter ego, his showboating antics grate on some but are more than offset by a cutting edge 'cool' factor that connects with a coveted younger demographic.
For all his marketing potential, Newton is in the same league as sports greats LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Roger Federer, who occupy a different orbit while pulling in close to $50 million in endorsements.
For the moment, the NFL is still very much a niche market limited to North America but it is looking beyond U.S. borders with plans to become a major global brand.