San Francisco. Lady Gaga. Beyoncé. Abby Wambach saying "gay" in an ad. Rainbows at halftime. Denver Broncos Coach Gary Kubiak discussing the gay social app Grindr on national TV.
Oops, I checked the transcript and what Kubiak actually said was, "We call ourselves the grinders," as in hard workers. No matter, Super Bowl 50 was the gayest Super Bowl ever and it was fun to be a part of it.
Cyd and I are advocates for LGBT athletes but we're also sports fans. And the last two seasons we have each witnessed our favorite NFL team win the Super Bowl in person.
Last year, Cyd was there as the Patriots beat the Seahawks and this year it was my turn as the Broncos shocked the Panthers. There was no cheering in the press box but I won't deny I was rooting inside.
The best part was going to the Broncos locker room after the game. There is nothing like winning a championship to make the whole place festive. Players were passing around the Super Bowl trophy and taking selfies and everyone was smiling and laughing and hugging.
The biggest smile belonged to Peyton Manning, who came into the locker room after most of his teammates were already showered and dressed. He looked like a man relieved to finally win his second ring, though he was a distinct second fiddle this night.
Manning finished with a 56.6 quarterback rating, among the lowest ever for a Super Bowl winning quarterback. But Panthers quarterback Cam Newton had an even worse night, with a 55.4 rating and three turnovers that led to 14 Denver points.
Manning led only two true scoring drives, both resulting in field goals. One touchdown was scored by the defense and the second was a 4-yard drive set up by a fumble. One field goal came after the longest punt return in Super Bowl history. Denver wound up with the fewest yards ever on offense for a Super Bowl winner, 194.
But Manning didn't care. Any doubts that he couldn't win the big one despite already doing it once before were put to rest. It shows how football is a team game. There were years that Manning was great in a playoff game but nonetheless saw his team lose, so he'll take a win any way he can. It was evident on his face, with a grin from ear to ear.
It seems likely that Manning will retire and he should. His skills are clearly diminished and going out on top can't be beat. He is the first QB to ever win a title for two different teams and the first to ever go to a Super Bowl with four different coaches. He's 14-14 all time in the playoffs and 2-2 in Super Bowls. Winning a championship is a great way to end a magnificent career and I was thrilled to have witnessed it.
—Quote of the day from Broncos wideout Jordan Norwood, who set a Super Bowl record with a 61-yard punt return. He was surrounded by a Panther defender on the play and surprisingly did not call for fair catch.
We're both Penn State grads so I got him alone for a moment and asked about why he returned it instead of a fair catch: "I don't know what I was thinking."
—I had a cool moment with Broncos kicker Brandon McManus. On Monday I was the first person to interview him and wrote about his anti bullying foundation. He must have seen the story because before his press conference started, he stood up and shook my hand saying, "there you are." Yes, I was flattered.
—McManus was 10 for 10 in the playoffs and gets my vote for offensive MVP. This is the same kicker who was demoted by the Broncos in 2014 after being erratic. I asked him what changed mechanically.
"I went from a two-and-a-half-step kicker to a two-step kicker to eliminate the half step that was making me vary how far my plant leg was going to be," he said. "When I eliminated that, I was able to have a very consistent approach to the ball and that really worked out for me."
—Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall boasted that his defense is the greatest ever. That's debatable but they are one of the best in the past 20 years. In the playoffs, they held teams quarterbacked by Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and Cam Newton to 16, 18 and 10 points. They were utterly dominant in the Super Bowl, turning the MVP Newton into a below-average quarterback.
The Panthers were 3 of 15 on third down. Newton was sacked seven times, hit 11 others, fumbled twice and was intercepted once. He'll have nightmares about Von Miller and Demarcus Ware all off-season.
—The NFL is very careful that no naked shots of players are taken. As Manning sat down to take off his uniform and was peeling it off piece by piece, a security man politely told some photogs, "no photos," as Manning stripped down to his compression shorts. For the record, my camera was in my pockets and I would never dream of taking such a photo. A Manning moon shot will have to wait.
—Check out my pictorial on the three best-dressed men at the Super Bowl, all Denver wide receivers.
—One more Manning victory: By winning the Super Bowl, he gets a $2 million bonus. Add that to the $2 million he got for winning the AFC title and he made back all the money he took in a pay cut. And the Broncos will write the check gladly.