FLOWERY BRANCH–Panthers center Ryan Kalil caused a stir before the season when he took out out a full-page newspaper advertisement in Charlotte predicting his team would win the Super Bowl.
Since then the Panthers have started 1-2, including a 36-7 drubbing at home from the New York Giants, and wide receiver Steve Smith publicly criticized quarterback Cam Newton for sulking. Now the Panthers have to face the Falcons (3-0) Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
But Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis doesn’t see any of that as a reason that Kalil’s prediction can’t still be accurate.
“We’ve got a goal in mind,” said Davis, the former Georgia Bulldogs star. “Ryan Kalil said it best: ‘We are going to win the Super Bowl.’ We still believe that wholeheartedly.”
Kalil’s ad drew ridicule in large part because Carolina finished 6-10 last season and last won a playoff game in 2005.
Davis noted that the Packers and Patriots are among the teams with two defeats.
“Can you look and say those teams are not going to make the playoffs? I feel the same way about our team,” he said. “We had a couple games that got away from us but we have a whole season in front of us. We’ve only played three games.”
Davis acknowledged that teams such as the Packers and Patriots get more of the benefit of the doubt because they’ve been champions in recent years.
“I understand that but I feel like, just like those teams, we have the talent and the capability of getting it done,” Davis said. “Once we start clicking we are going to go on a roll here soon, and just remember that I told you that.”
Carolina coach Ron Rivera, in his second season, said he wasn’t angry at Kalil about the ad. He said Kalil wasn’t being arrogant but rather was trying to draw attention to the fact that the Panthers believe they are “putting ourselves in position to have success.”
“He thinks, ‘Why not? Why shouldn’t we have that opportunity?’ and I agree with him,” Rivera said. “I told the players if a guy puts it out there there’s no sense taking it back, it’s too late, but the truth of the matter is you’ve got to believe it. If you don’t, you have a problem. That’s kind of the thing we are trying to get our guys to learn and do.”