It?s Super Bowl weekend!

If the Chiefs can?t be in the Super Bowl, Carolina will get my cheers come Sunday.
If the Chiefs can?t be in the Super Bowl, Carolina will get my cheers come Sunday.
The Carolina Pan?thers will face the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 this weekend and, as a football fan, I?m pretty excited. Not only is the Super Bowl a chance to watch some great football, it?s an excuse to gather with friends around good food and conversation.

With the Kansas City Chiefs losing in the AFC Divisional Round, I?m left to decide which team to cheer for on Sunday. As I ponder this question, I think back to my early years. In those days, I liked both the Chiefs and the Broncos.

I attended my first game at Arrowhead as a sixth-grader in 1999 during the days of Elvis Grbac and Drew Bledsoe. Alex Smith would?ve been 15 at the time, while Tom Brady was wrapping up his career at Michi?gan, less than a year from being drafted by the Patriots.

Yet, as much as I liked the Chiefs, the reality was I also cheered for the Broncos. At that time, John Elway was fresh off a Super Bowl victory to cap his impressive playing career, and with back-to-back Super Bowl championships, Denver was easy to like.

Yes, I liked the Chiefs. Yes, I liked Denver. And I periodically wore shirts supporting both.

That changed, however, when I reached seventh grade. I had a teacher, a diehard Chiefs fan, who, quite frankly, intimidated me. One day I wore my Broncos shirt to class, only to be told I could not be a Chiefs fan and like the Broncos, too. Being an obedient student, I never wore the shirt again.

That?s not to say I completely disowned Denver, however. I enjoyed watching Peyton Manning play in Indy and still do. Confession: I cheered for Denver to beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship, which may say more about my dislike for the Patriots, but that?s another story.

So, thinking ahead to the upcoming Super Bowl, I?m left with a decision. Do I cheer for the Broncos as I would have done in junior high? Or do I make the Panthers ?my team??

The matchup is an intri?guing one. Both quarterbacks were No. 1 picks in the NFL draft?Peyton (Colts) in 1998 and Cam (Panthers) in 2011. Peyton will try for his second ring, while Cam seeks his first.

This weekend, one quarterback will lift the Lom?bardi Trophy amid swirls of confetti as the victor on the world?s biggest stage. Will it be the up-and-coming star or the aging veteran?

But the matchup is about more than the two signal callers. On Sunday, we?ll see the Panthers? explosive offense and Denver?s stout defense. What better storyline could we write?

While I do think it would be a storybook ending to see Peyton win it all in what may be his final game, I won?t be cheering for Denver this time. As a Chiefs fan, I probably shouldn?t.

Instead, I?ll root for Carolina. I think it?d be great to see the Panthers win their first Super Bowl. If the Chiefs can?t be in it, Carolina will get my cheers come Sunday.

Janae Rempel is sports editor at the Free Press. She can be reached at Janae@hills?boro?