New generation of QBs emerge but league faces threats

Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:39pm EST
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By Simon Evans

MIAMI (Reuters) - A new generation of talented quarterbacks emerged in 2012 but a refereeing fiasco, worries over concussions and player behavior all left their mark on the National Football League (NFL).

The year was also a tantalizing tale of the Mannings with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning winning his second Super Bowl title in four years with a win over New England in the same stadium where older brother Peyton played for Indianapolis.

After a year out with serious neck problems, Peyton Manning restarted his career with the Denver Broncos after 14 years with the Colts and quickly cast aside any doubts over his durability by leading his team to a playoff berth and division title.

Manning's revival came at the expense of Tim Tebow, the most talked about player in 2011, who has spent most of this year on the sidelines after being traded to the New York Jets.

'Tebow-mania' reached its peak in January when he led the Broncos to a playoff win over Pittsburgh but a crushing loss to the New England Patriots a week later was the last in a Denver uniform for the unorthodox quarterback.

Tebow's charisma, his noted religiosity and clean-cut good looks made him one of the most popular NFL players in years but that did not stop Jets head coach Rex Ryan leaving him as a bit-player and back-up to Mark Sanchez with most critics agreeing that Tebow's poor passing technique has hampered his career.

Tebow's fans understandably view 2012 as a year in which an exciting player's talent was wasted but in the big picture there has been no shortage of exciting new talent to enjoy in the NFL.

It was hard to imagine anyone exceeding the record-breaking impact made in 2011 by Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton but it did not take long for the top two picks in this year's NFL Draft, Indianapolis's Andrew Luck and Washington's Robert Griffin III respectively, to make an impact.   Continued...

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning waves as he runs off the field after they beat the New Orleans Saints in their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, December 9, 2012. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine