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If quarterbacks don’t decide this Super Bowl, then who will?

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The quarterbacks.

When there is an NFL game played, form the lowliest preseason game to the Super Bowl, it’s always about the quarterback, isn’t it? From Joe Montana to Tom Brady to Terry Bradshaw to Bart Starr. From Trent Dilfer to Brad Johnson to Jeff Hostetler to Mark Rypien, the Super Bowl is a quarterback’s game. You can be Joe Namath or Doug Williams or John Elway, and your franchise depends on you.

But if this game isn’t about Carolina’s Cam Newton saying hello or Denver’s Peyton Manning saying goodbye, then what else is it about?

The 10 non-quarterbacks who could decide this game.

1. Luke Kuechly, linebacker, Carolina: Kuechly has become the game’s finest inside linebacker, a thumper with surprising range on defense. He’s a force for the Panthers.

2. Von Miller, linebacker, Denver: A completely different sort of linebacker for the Broncos, Miller had 11 sacks for the Broncos. Capable of stealing the game.

3. Josh Norman, cornerback, Carolina: Norman is cocky, and he’s brash. Against Demaryius Thomas, he’ll have to be.

4. DeMarcus Ware, defensive end, Denver: Ware, the former Cowboy, had seven sacks this season for the impressive front four the Broncos.

5. Thomas Davis, linebacker, Carolina: Could Davis really be effective with a broken arm? He swears he will play.

6. Aqib Talib, cornerback, Denver: The former wayward son of the Bucs seems to have grown up. He leads a fine secondary for the Broncos.

7. Greg Olsen, tight end, Carolina: Olsen has emerged as the top threat for the Panthers with 71 catches and 1,048 yards.

8. Demaryius Thomas, wide receiver, Denver: The Broncos had some fluctuation at quarterback, but Thomas was star no matter who played. He caught 104 passes for 1,304 yards.

9. Kawaan Short, defensive tackle, Carolina: No one talks a lot about Short, but they should. His nine sacks this year led defensive tackles

10. Chris Harris Jr., cornerback, Denver: Harris is the other Pro Bowl corner for the Broncos, earning his second selection this year. Together, Harris and Talib figure to make it tough for Newton to throw.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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