In 2012, Panthers center Ryan Kalil raised plenty of eyebrows by taking out an ad in the Charlotte Observer and making a bold preseason guarantee: “One hundred-percent, sterling silver victory. The Lombardi trophy. And it reads: CAROLINA PANTHERS SUPER BOWL XLVII CHAMPIONS!”
“It was one of those things I was literally up all night and I was thinking about it, and just went to my computer and started writing,” Kalil explained at the time.
After the 2012 season ended in a 7-9 record for the Panthers, Kalil had no regrets. “Look, I have no misconception about how hard it is to win in this league,” Kalil said as the 49ers were preparing to face the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVI. “But I’m not the kind of guy who can buy into managing expectations or rebuilding or timing.”
The Panthers have followed Kalil’s failed guarantee with three straight playoff appearances, proving that the organization has embraced a culture of winning that has vaulted it to a Super Bowl that it enters as the favorite. And it’s entirely possible that Kalil’s introduction of the concept that Carolina can win a Super Bowl into the city and the locker room helped make it happen.
It also doesn’t hurt that the have a nucleus of highly-talented players, including Cam Newton, Greg Olsen, Luke Kuechly, Kawann Short, and Josh Norman. Still, Kalil’s decision to embrace the idea that the Panthers can win a Super Bowl possibly assisted with the creation of a mindset that the Panthers can become a team that contends for Super Bowls on a year-in and year-out basis. Right now, it sure seems as if they will, at least for the rest of the decade if not longer.