Danica Patrick: NASCAR driver and marketing phenom is going against the grain based on a personal relationship. “I’m going with the Broncos this year,” she said. “Peyton (Manning) is a friend and I’d love to see him win another Super Bowl.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: NASCAR driver and Patrick’s significant other stays in line. “This could be Peyton’s last game so I would really like to see him and his team become Super Bowl champions.”
Erskine Bowles: “A celebrity I’m not but I’m all in for the Panthers, 31-24,” Bowles, the former UNC System president and White House Chief of Staff, said. “The why is easy. If they lose it will break my grandkids heart. Keep Pounding.”
Ric Flair: The wrestling legend can’t be wooed by the Broncos. “I definitely pick the Panthers to win the Super Bowl. Are you kidding me? I heard a rumor Steve Smith burned one of my robes he owns when I visited the 49ers that one year, so no way I’m getting on the Panthers bad side! Go Panthers! WOOOOO!”
John Kryk, Toronto Sun: Carolina 40, Denver 13. When the Broncos lose a Super Bowl, they don’t mess around. Half measures won’t do. Blowout loss No. 6 appears imminent. The Panthers outscored Seattle and Arizona in the first half by a combined 55-7 in NFC playoff games, and possess the offensive firepower and defensive ferocity to win big again.
Mary Kay Cabot, Cleveland Plain Dealer: Panthers 27, Broncos 24: Newton’s Laws of Motion prevail in Super Bowl 50.
David Birkett, Detroit Free Press: Panthers 23, Broncos 17. Peyton Manning won’t write the perfect end to his Hall-of-Fame career with another Super Bowl ring, but he will pass the torch of quarterbacking excellence along to Cam Newton.
Eric Prisbell, USA Today: Carolina 23, Denver 17. Cam Newton wins MVP. Luke Kuechly gets one pick. A largely ineffective Peyton Manning calls it a career.
Tom Rock, Newsday: Broncos 31, Panthers 27. Peyton Manning is pulled for the final play of the game and backup quarterback Brock Osweiler uses his much stronger, healthier, younger arm to chuck a game-winning Hail Mary touchdown.
Jeff Schultz, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Carolina 20, Denver 13. Peyton Manning has the “perfect-ending” storyline but the Panthers and Cam Newton are destined to give Atlanta one more reason to hate them.
Paul Dehner, Cincinnati Enquirer: Carolina 24, Denver 14. Too much Cam Newton, even for the dominant Denver defense. First of what should be multiple rings for the new face of the NFL.
Mark Kaboly, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Denver 25, Carolina 20. Peyton Manning is more than willing to hand over that proverbial torch, but it proves to be too hot for Cam Newton to hold.
Jeff McLane, Philadelphia Enquirer: Carolina 23, Denver 17. The Carolina run game will wear down a Denver defense that doesn’t get enough help from Peyton Manning.
▪ The homeless presence in San Francisco not far from Union Square is painfully evident. The owner of a local deli said he’s accustomed to seeing a couple of homeless people outside of his establishment. But since the mayor called for displacement of the homeless from the waterfront to make way for Super Bowl City, he says he sees five or six new homeless faces each day. This has hurt his business, he says, particularly because of their displays of aggression toward customers.
▪ A block away, a huddle of homeless people sat oddly juxtaposed with the polished Super Bowl signage on the building’s exterior. One person was speaking to a wall, another was chasing a man who was pushing a juice cart. A third was standing on a street corner saying, “Listen to me.”
▪ Lunch for many of the Observer staffers on Friday was at Mel’s Diner, right around the corner from the media center and decorated after the Mel’s Diner of “American Graffiti” fame. No sign of Richard Dreyfuss or Ron Howard, and like elsewhere in San Francisco it was a bit pricey. The milkshakes, however, were outstanding.
▪ In typical Silicon Valley fashion, Girl Scouts were selling cookies outside the Moscone Convention Center. Credit cards were accepted.
▪ A drunk lady decked out in 49ers gear and swearing was seen putting out a trash can fire with a cup of water as 2 police officers approached her.
▪ A musical quartet played Super Man theme at Super Bowl City this afternoon. Panthers fans cheered.
▪ Folks riding the trolley up Powell Street were mostly wearing NFL jerseys, confirming that it’s mainly a tourist thing these days.
Staff writers Joseph Person, Jonathan Jones, Michael Persinger and Katie Peralta contributed.