By Julian Linden
NEWARK, New Jersey (Reuters) – For most of the four years that have passed since the National Football League awarded the 48th Super Bowl to the New York/New Jersey area, the main topic conversation centered around the weather.
But now, with the game just five days away and no sign of any blizzards, “legacy” has become the buzzword for the title decider between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.
More specifically, the legacy of two men – John Elway and Peyton Manning – whose careers have come together through a perfect storm.
Manning won a Super Bowl with Indianapolis seven years ago and is looking to add another title to his stellar career with Denver on Sunday. If successful, he will become the first quarterback to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy with two teams.
Elway won two Super Bowls as a quarterback for the Broncos before retiring in 1999, and was later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Now, he has the chance to win a third Super Bowl ring, in his new role as the Broncos’ vice-president of football operations, an achievement, he said, that would rank alongside his greatest feats on the field.
“It’d be just as important,” he told reporters at the Super Bowls’ annual media day on Tuesday. “To me, the common denominator is competitiveness and wanting to win.
WATCH: How an NFL game ball is made
“As a player I was very competitive and I’m the same way as an executive.”
By his own admission, Elway was not a good spectator, struggling to contain his emotions from the sideline, when he first agreed to take on his new job.
That can be a common problem for great players but Elway said he was learning fast and was really enjoying the new challenges he faced.
“I’m getting better with letting the control go and knowing that there’s nothing I can do,” he said. “It was tough early, and there’s certain games that I look at that for us to be successful, we had to get over it.”
Elway, 53, is almost old enough to be Manning’s father and has quickly formed a special bond with a player who may go down as the greatest quarterback of all time.
Elway was instrumental in luring Manning, 37, to Colorado after he was released by the Indianapolis Colts and while he never had to give the four-time MVP any tips on how to play, he did offer some guidance on how the Broncos operate.
“I just tried to show him what the Denver Broncos are all about,” Elway said. “I think that where he was, he was still in shock that he had gotten released by Indianapolis and it was a tough situation there.”
Unsurprisingly, Elway takes exception to any suggestion that Sunday’s game could impact Manning’s legacy because he has won just one Super Bowl so far.
“I don’t think this game, one way or the other, affects his legacy the way that he has played,” Elway said. “He’s going to be one of the all-time greats no matter what.”
(Editing by Frank Pingue)