Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
LIKE IT IS:
Quartet of quality QBs on display Sunday
It’s time for the NFL’s Final Four - a Super Sunday of football - and as usual, quarterbacks are the headliners, although Marshawn Lynch’s running helped Seattle advance.
The AFC matchup of New England at Denver will get the most hype, featuring quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, who are on the bullet train to the Hall of Fame.
The NFC title game - San Francisco at Seattle - should be interesting, too, though quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson are relative newcomers.
Here’s a quick look at the four quarterbacks who will be trying to get their teams to survive and advance to Super Bowl Sunday.
Peyton Manning, 37, Denver Broncos, has started every game in 15 of his 16 NFL seasons. He missed the 2011 season, his final year in Indianapolis, because of a neck injury.
He has a lot of miles on him, almost 40 miles of pass completions - but the man known for his finger-licking, foot-stomping, pointing and audible calling (his favorite is “Omaha”) oozes success.
Four of Manning’s 14 career 400-yard games have been this season, when he passed for a NFL regular-season record 55 touchdowns. He’s 1-1 in the Super Bowl. Hestill has a quick release and is a fierce competitor. When he was 12 he begged his offensive linemen to play harder.
He even rushed for a touchdown this season, his first by foot in five years, fooling even the Fox cameramen on his 1-yard score against the Cowboys.
Tom Brady, 36, New England Patriots, was a sixth-round draft pick but has started 193 games in his 14-year career, all for the Patriots. He has the most NFL career playoff victories with 19 and is 2-3 in Super Bowls.
He lives lavishly, with a $20 million Los Angeles mansion, a $14 million New York City condo and is building a home near Boston that is reportedly 14,000 square feet. No wonder he declared he was going to play for a long time after the Patriots drafted quarterback Ryan Mallett outof Arkansas.
He has won 148 games, many of them coming in the final two minutes, earning him the reputation of as a quarterback with nerves of steel.
Colin Kaepernick, 26, San Francisco 49ers, a second-round draft pick in 2011, was noted for his mobility while running the Pistol offense at Nevada. He saw spot duty in the Wildcat formation until replacing starter Alex Smith, who went down with a concussion in Week 10 last season, and he never gave the job back.
Kaepernick has almost as many rushing touchdowns (5) as tattoos, and that’s a lot, although it should be pointed out that most are biblically based: He celebrates touchdowns by “Kaepernicking,” kissing Scripture on his right bicep.
In 18 games this season, including two in the playoffs, he has passed for 23 touchdowns.
The guy is a defensive migraine.
Russell Wilson, 25, Seattle Seahawks, was taken in the third round of the 2012 draft after playing his senior season for Bret Bielema, then head coach at Wisconsin.
Wilson was expected to be the backup to big-money free agent Matt Flynn as a rookie, but he beat out Flynn and led the Seahawks to the divisional round of the playoffs. He has taken the Seahawks one game closer to the Super Bowl in his second season, while earning $526,217, or slightly less than the Seattle Seahawks’ deep-snapper. Expect that to change soon.
Wilson is religious, but unlike Kaepernick, his opponent Sunday, he’s soft spoken.He’s 5-11 (everyone say Johnny Manziel) and played two seasons of minor-league baseball for the Colorado Rockies while playing football at North Carolina State, where he graduated in four years. He then benefited from the NCAA’s graduate exception rule, which allows fifth-year seniors immediate eligibility at another FBS school to continue graduate studies. Wilson took advantage and led Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl.
Wilson is a dual threat, rushing for 555 yards and passing for 3,460 in 16 regular-season starts and one in the playoffs.
It is going to be a Super Sunday.
Sports, Pages 17 on 01/14/2014