RENTON, Wash. -- One quarterback is 37, playing in his third Super Bowl and 16th NFL season as part of a record-setting career that will lead to a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The other is two months past his 25th birthday, setting records even Manning didn’t reach in his first two seasons as a pro.
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning hopes to add to his legacy as one of the all-time greats. No one questions whether he can handle the big stage, but some people still ask if this game and this moment are too big for Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll isn’t one of them.
“I don’t know how anybody could be better prepared to handle it,” Carroll said of his quarterback. “That’s preparation that came way before he ever got to us. He’s a tremendous kid, and I think he’ll be at his best, just like he has been in every other opportunity that we’ve faced. He’ll take care of his business.”
This will give you some idea of Wilson’s level of preparation. Earlier this week, he told ESPN’s John Clayton some detailed information about the Super Bowl footballs.
Wilson knew there will be 56 footballs used, and they likely will be rotated every three plays. The balls have a Super Bowl emblem, which tends to make them slicker than the usual NFL footballs, so Wilson plans to make sure each ball is rubbed down to help cut down on the slickness.
That pretty much tells you all you need to know about the level of Wilson’s preparation. He also has studied the differences of a Super Bowl's timing compared to a normal game.
“You have all the warm-ups like you normally do,” Wilson said, “but then you have people singing and all that kind of stuff. So it takes another extra 25 to 30 minutes sometimes, and that’s the great part about it.
“But you have to understand not to get warmed up too early, not get too fired up and amped up too early. You also think about halftime. You have a 35- to 45-minute halftime.”
Clearly, this is a man who understands the moment. And this isn’t his first Super Bowl. Wilson attended the event last year.
He also has reached out to some people he respects who have played in the Super Bowl, including New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, one of Wilson’s idols.
Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell says leading a team in the Super Bowl is a difficult assignment for any young player, but he believes in Wilson’s leadership.
“He’s fabulous in everything that we’ve asked him to do,” Bevell said of Wilson. “He does a great job of managing all of the situations, and he’s come up big in just about every one of those for us.”
Nevertheless, Bevell has no intention of asking Wilson to do all the things the Broncos expect Manning to do in running the offense.
“We don’t want to push the limit and ask him to do too much,” Bevell said. “We haven’t done that. I don’t know if you could do that to him because he is so well prepared and he puts so much pressure on himself to do the right things all of the time, but he’s shown up big in all of the situations for us.”
So you’ll have a hard time convincing Wilson’s teammates or his coaches that this moment is too big for him.
“I think it’s just the blood running through his veins that tells him the moment is not too big,” Bevell said. “Whether he’s got to use his mind, make a throw or use his feet, he doesn’t lose the moment.”