NFL teams look for any advantage when it comes to getting themselves motivated to play. Real, perceived, or fabricated.
For the 49ers, the ball was on the tee the moment they beat the Packers. Standing on the tundra (which by definition is frozen), quarterback Colin Kaepernick declared through his Martin Gramatica mask that the 49ers “owe” the Panthers for Carolina’s one-point win at Candlestick Park.
The Panthers have their own source of motivation. The oddsmakers installed them as home underdogs, and the Panthers view that as a sign of disrespect.
“I can’t speak for everybody else, but personally, yes, I do [feel disrespected],” fullback Mike Tolbert said Friday, via Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer. “To me, it’s absolutely ridiculous why we’re the underdogs at home when we’re 7-1 at home, when we beat teams that are in the same caliber as San Francisco, if not better. Personally I got a bad taste in my mouth about it.”
Defensive end Greg Hardy shrugs at the notion that the 49ers are favored.
“That’s just people talking,” Hardy said. “Naysayers, people jabbing, even old analysts and old players talking about a game that they’re too slow to play. Congrats to them. That’s what they get paid for.”
Actually, the betting line is a carefully-selected number aimed at encouraging equal betting on both teams. That way, Vegas keeps the losers’ money and pays the winners only $10 for every $11 wagered.
That’s the business of betting. Hardy know much better the business of football.
“If you don’t stop me, I’m going to break your quarterback’s face,” Hardy said. “If he doesn’t throw it to your receivers, he’s not going to win. It depends upon who’s in the position and who wants to make the plays. It doesn’t matter what team is hot, what team is up or down, what team’s feeling sorry for themselves, what team’s the favorite. … I ain’t been a favorite in 24 years. I’m doing great.”
He’ll be doing even better when he gets his new contract. Especially if he breaks a few more quarterback faces over the next few weeks.