Panthers center Ryan Kalil rallied the fan base with a full-page ad in the Charlotte Observer declaring that the Panthers will be the Super Bowl XLVII champions. (One person pointed on Twitter that Kalil misspelled “Packers.”)
Ultimately, Kalil was behaving like a fan, and that’s the kind of behavior the fans love.
His coach loves it, too.
“I’m right behind [Kalil],” Ron Rivera said, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. “I feel the same way. This is a group of men who, if they work hard and put it on themselves, the sky can be the limit. But, we’ve got to go out and do it now to become the football team that has a chance to win every Sunday.”
Rivera thinks it’s important for players to possess that kind of enthusiasm.
“[I]f we don’t have 53 guys with that attitude in our locker room right now, then we gotta find the guys that want it,” Rivera said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen. But we gotta come out and play and play hard and do everything we can to win that Super Bowl and they have the right attitude, that right mental frame of mind and that’s what Ryan’s done. Ryan’s put it out there, like, ‘Hey. This is my mental outlook, this is my frame of mind. This is what I want, so let’s go out and get it.'”
Linebacker Jon Beason agrees. “You can’t put the carriage before the horse,” Beason told Rapaport. “But I love it. I’ve been saying that for a while now. The first step to reality is kinda the belief. Having that confidence in what you’re doing, and now it’s all about the preparation.”
So why am I celebrating Kalil when in the past I’ve criticized guys like Rex Ryan and Mike Vick for doing pretty much the same thing? With a contending team, that kind of talk comes off as presumptuous and crass. With a team not widely viewed as a Super Bowl contender, talk like that demonstrates and develops the kind of confidence that can make an otherwise fringe team contend.
In this context, it comes off not as arrogance but as an expression of determination. The kind of determination that, not long ago, simply didn’t exist in Charlotte.
Kalil will have a chance to elaborate or to backtrack on Thursday, when he appears on the final PFT Live before we take a break in deference to something called the Olympics. I’m willing to predict he won’t be backtracking.