The Carolina Panthers just finished their first week of Super Bowl preparation and practices and will take the weekend off while the rest of the NFL plays the annual Pro Bowl. There is now one more week before Cam Newton leads his team against the Denver Broncos, and most of next week will be split between practices and promotion for Super Bowl 50. Here is a look at the news coming from the Carolina Panthers as they take their one last break before the big Super Bowl.
Steve Smith Feels Race Plays into Disrespect of Cam Newton
While Carolina Panthers fans love Cam Newton unconditionally, many fans of other teams look at him with contempt. No matter what Newton does on or off the field, he still picked up the nickname Scam Newton and is often accused of disrespect, arrogance, and showboating by fans all over the nation.
Steve Smith, who is arguably the greatest receiver to play for Carolina in the team's history, was released from the team in controversy before he wanted to leave, but still has fond memories of the Panthers. He also has respect for his former quarterback, who he said is seeing racism play into his legacy in the NFL. "Automatically people started calling him a thug," Smith said. "They don't call Aaron Rodgers thug. They don't call other guys of other colors thugs, but as soon as an African-American athlete does it, they say, 'thug.'" Smith admits that there is also an arrogance to Newton, but that exists for many other white quarterbacks as well.
This might be the final game of Peyton Manning's career. When he shook hands with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, he said it might be his last rodeo, so if the Panthers beat the Broncos next weekend, it might send Manning out of the NFL with a loss. Cornerback Josh Norman said that he respects Manning completely, and if he intercepts a Manning pass in the Super Bowl, he will take the time to bow to the master. Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert put it best, saying, "We don't really care if this is his last game," Tolbert said. "He's played what—18, 19 years? He's had enough, you know what I'm saying? It's our turn."
Carolina head coach Ron Rivera won a Super Bowl ring when he played with the Chicago Bears in 1985, one of the greatest Super Bowl teams of all time. Now, he is playing against another head coach who played in Super Bowls in Gary Kubiak. Rivera plans to bring his Super Bowl ring with him when he travels to California for Super Bowl 50, but he said that he won't wear it while coaching the game. He does show the ring to his players, letting them see what hard work can earn. "I've tried to make the point that it represents everything that you've gone through and the people that have played," Rivera said. "It's not necessarily about the ring. It's the people it stands for."
Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.
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