By Woody Paige
It’s been all unicorns, neon rainbows and fashion comparisons between the NFL MVP and the SB MVP the past several days.
There’s no garbage gab.
But, on Thursday night, it will be Von vs. Cam, Round 2 for the heavyweight championship of the world.
Who is the better man with the superior team in the rematch?
Certainly, the opening National Football League game between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos is not as meaningful as, say, Super Bowl 50.
However, Cam Newton is looking for redemption, and Von Miller wants confirmation.
Superman vs. The Proof.
If the Panthers had won the NFL championship game instead of the Broncos, Cam would have appeared on “”Dancing With The Stars’’ and led the parade at Disneyland, and talked with Ellen and Jimmy, and he would have talked after the Super Bowl.
Instead, Von was The Man For All Off-Season, showing up everywhere – and often. Von was the Cover Boy, and Cam went under cover.
And Von got the six-year $114.5 million contract and the highest guarantee ($70 million) for a defensive player in NFL history.
Cam is stuck, ha!, in the second year of a $103.8 mil, five-year agreement with the Panthers.
Two very wealthy young men.
It must be remembered that in the 2011 draft, the Panthers chose Newton, the Auburn quarterback, No. 1 overall, and the Broncos picked Miller, the Texas A&M linebacker, No. 2.
In case you’ve forgotten, the next 10 players selected were Marcell Dareus, A.J. Green, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones, Aldon Smith, Jake Locker, Tyron Smith, Blaine Gabbert, J.J. Watt and Christian Ponder. Dareus starts the year on the suspended list. Gabbert and Ponder didn’t work out so well with their original teams. Green, Peterson and Watt have become great pros, and Jones has been an exceptional wide receiver. Tyron Smith has been a speical offtensive lineman with the Cowboys; Aldon Smith was released by the 49ers after troubled times.
Newton and Miller were in the Super Bowl, and could top more than a quarter billion dollars combine in salaries in their careers.
This after Newton was inconsistent early with the Panters and Miller failed a drug (marijuana) test and was suspended by the NFL..
Last season Newton threw for 35 touchdowns and 3,837 yards and rushed for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns, led his Panthers to the Super Bowl and won the league’s Most Valuable Player award . . . going away.
Meanwhile, Miller made 35 tackles and had 11 sacks and four forced fumbles in the regular season while the Broncos won the AFC West. He became a ballistic missile in the postseason with 11 tackles, an interception, two forced fumbles and five sacks. He was a terror against Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and, ultimately, Cam Newton.
He turned Cam into Fig Newton, forcing fumbles early and late that turned into the Broncos’ only touchdowns in a 24-10 victory over the Panthers in Santa Clara, Calif.
Afterward, Von celebrated, and Cam barely said a few sentences before he bolted.
Last game of the 2015 season, first game of 2016.
Each has been mostly kind to the other since.
The best was in April when Cam posted on Instagram a photo of himself – playing water polo. Von came back with a Photoshop of the Cam’s water adventure – showing Miller (in uniform) knocking the ball out of Cam’s hand.
Cam responded with: “”That was cute Von Miller. Lookin lookin lookin . . . lookin for revenge Sept. 8.’’ He added hashtags “”All respect to you my killa and “”I know you will be ready, we will too.’’
On Tuesday, Von was very respectful of Newton. In response to a question asking if Newton is the hardest quarterback to sack, he replied: “He’s one of them. He’s definitely one of them. There are a lot of great, elusive quarterbacks, but Cam’s at the top of that list, for sure.”
Who else is on the list? “You’ve got to put big men on any type of list like that of bringing quarterbacks down. Russell Wilson might not be big and massive, but he’s definitely hard to bring down. But Cam, he’s definitely in a league of his own. He’s ‘Super Cam’.”
Miller said of his relationship with Newton: “”I know him, but it’s not like I get onto my phone and text him and say, ‘What’s up, you want to come get lunch or something?’ It’s not like that. But I’ve got a mutual respect for Cam. He’s an elite player. In the National Football League, it’s a small world, anyway. We’ve got mutual friends; I’ve got guys that know him. I know him, but [I don’t have] the relationship where you could call him. It’s not like that.”
And it’s not as if Von will get in Cam’s head on Thursday: “No, I mean, this is the pros. He’s 27 years old …But that’s just not my game. My game is lining up and coming with the same effort every single play and try to tire out my guy. So, I’m really not a big trash talker or try to get up under skin. I want to bring the pressure every single play.”
Cam was No. 1, Von No. 2 in the draft. Von was No. 1 in the Super Bowl, Cam No. 2.
Too bad Don King isn’t promoting this rematch.
It’s not “”The Thrilla in Manilla.’’
“”Bravado In Colorado.’’
Who does the talking this time?