SAN JOSE, Calif. — Is Carolina confident? Of course. Cocky? No chance.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera admitted he takes issue with the assumption that his players are an arrogant bunch because of their colorful personalities.
“Yes, I do,” Rivera said Wednesday. “ . . . We’ve kind of crashed the party. We’re kind of new to the scene. Not a lot of people know who we are and so to draw a quick conclusion on that based on a couple of things, I think is disappointing.”
True to form, the Panthers have appeared loose and easy-going during their Super Bowl 50 media sessions. But by no means have these 17-1 Panthers lost focus on the task at hand — beating the Broncos on Sunday.
And like his coach, defensive tackle Kyle Love also took umbrage to the assumptions about the Panthers.
“That angers me,” he told Newsday. “I feel exactly the same way [Rivera] feels because people are saying we’re arrogant, we’re cocky, we’re doing all this extra stuff. But I feel like, we’re having fun. Why are we offending people by having fun? This team is not the Seattle team, where you had guys like Richard Sherman saying he’s the best corner in the league, ‘Don’t throw my way’ and all that type of stuff. To me, that’s cockiness. That’s arrogance.”
But not everybody on the Panthers is bothered by the negative comments.
Panthers cornerback Josh Norman, who garnered national attention for his in-game feud with Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. during their game in December, said he couldn’t care less about how the world views him or his teammates.
“If you ain’t got haters, you ain’t popping,” Norman said, flashing a smile. “ . . . If you don’t like something, do something about it. Change it. Nobody has yet to change what we do, so we continue to do it. And if we really pay attention to what outside people and what they think about us, then we’re seeing ourselves short.”
Few believed the Panthers would be one of the best teams in the NFL, let alone be one game away from winning Super Bowl 50. And that’s precisely why Norman doesn’t care about the public opinion.
“I don’t give two fat cents about what somebody else is saying about me,” Norman said, “because No. 1, they didn’t get me to the this point in my life, they weren’t there when I was in the backyard struggling, there weren’t there cutting grass, backpedaling when I was out there by myself. They didn’t do anything.
“They just putting in their little thoughts about me and how I’m doing my job on the biggest stage in the world. And you feel I’m going to listen to that? Would you listen to that?”