Panthers trying to treat week away as a bonding experience


The Panthers have already lost control of their own stadium, so they’re about to leave it.

With the team ceding its home to the Democratic National Convention next week, preparations have already taken over Bank of America Stadium.

The Panthers are leaving next Tuesday to prepare in Bradenton, Fla., at the IMG Academy, a plan that’s been in place for months.

But as it draws near, they’re trying to treat the upheaval in schedule as a positive.

“It’s almost like you’re back in college days going to a bowl game,” center Ryan Kalil told Ron Green Jr. of the Charlotte Observer. “You get to go out and spend a week out there. Hopefully, we’ll have activities like a little gift bag, maybe a beef-eating contest with the other team. We’ll probably go to a famous restaurant.”

“That would be nice. I just hope he doesn’t put it in the paper,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said, alluding to Kalil’s Super Bowl ad.

While any change is tough for players and coaches in a routine-based business like the NFL, the Panthers are treating it like an extra week of camp.

“Anytime you go away for a week, it can be a bonding experience for the team,” General Manager Marty Hurney said. “The players get closer. It’s a challenge to stay focused when you’re not in your regular routine but you face things like this all the time in our business.

“It’s about how you adapt and respond to distractions.”

To be honest, packing up and leaving town is probably far less of a distraction than staying in Charlotte would have been. The city has been taken over by preparations for the convention, so something as simple as parking at the stadium has become a complicated chore.