SAN JOSE — Peyton Manning is in his fourth Super Bowl.
This was his first time to make a grand entrance on this prime time occasion on what used to be media day on Monday. Manning stood alongside his Denver Broncos teammates on a prop Golden Gate Bridge at the SAP Center.
It was all part of Super Bowl 50 Opening Day. The event was traditionally held on the Tuesday of Super Bowl week.
“That was a cool intro — I didn’t realize I was standing on a bridge,” said Manning, the Broncos’ hall-of-fame quarterback in waiting on the replica structure in the SB 50 black and gold color scheme.
The AFC champions went through the first session, with Manning, coach Gary Kubiak, linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller spending an hour with hordes of media.
Cam Newton of the 17-1 and NFC champs Carolina Panthers followed.
Newton admitted his admiration for Broncos’ legend and current GM John Elway.
Like Elway, he’s hoping for a Super Bowl ring. “I want to win just one — this one,” he said to a neutral crowd.
The largest applause in this region of largely 49ers and Raiders fans was saved for legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice. He even got a few of the locals into a frenzy by slipping on his familiar No. 80 jersey of host team San Francisco.
Rice was joined front and center by former Super Bowl MVPs Marcus Allen, Fred Biletnikoff, Jim Plunkett, Kurt Warner, and Terrell Davis.
But that was Super Bowl past.
The now belongs to the Broncos and the Panthers, who will battle it out at Levi Stadium just up the road in Santa Clara on Sunday.
Those of us non-working media folks sat with the masses wearing an ear set made specifically to tune into the various question-and-answer sessions.
Watching the big screen, you could tune into Manning or Newton fielding questions.
“I’m just soaking up the moment,” said Manning, who refused to compare his current Broncos with that of his previous Super Bowl teams.
Based on his recent accomplishments, Newton has been compared to Superman.
The Broncos’ Miller hopes to be the kryptonite.
“As Cam goes, so goes (the Carolina) offense,” he said. “I believe Superman can be beat.”