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Deon Grant’s Super Bowl 50 rooting interest is split

Giants safety Deon Grant looks on during practice.

Giants safety Deon Grant looks on during practice. (Jan. 27, 2012) Credit: AP

SAN FRANCISCO — Former Giant Deon Grant is rooting for family in this Super Bowl. He just hasn’t decided which one.

Grant, who won a ring with the Giants in 2011, has had a long relationship with Peyton Manning that goes back to their days at the University of Tennessee.

“Peyton was one of the first guys to approach me when I got there,” Grant said on Thursday. “Jamal Lewis and I were roommates and he came in the room and said, ‘You know, we’re expecting big things from y’all.’ He looked after us like a veteran guy with experience and a big brother is supposed to. Ever since then, going against him, it’s always been a good relationship.

“If he does win, it would be great for Vol Life,” Grant said. “Another one of our guys gets another ring for the school.”

But last year, Grant made a discovery. His grandfather passed away in the summer, and when he went to the funeral in Georgia, he mingled with relatives from all sides of his large family. Some of them were named Newton. It turns out that Grant has a distant cousin in Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, a relationship he had no idea about until that funeral.

Grant also has ties to the Panthers. He played there for three seasons as a second-round pick in the 2000 draft and was on the 2003 team that went to Super Bowl XXXVIII and lost to the Patriots.

Asked what a Panthers win on Sunday would mean for the Carolinas, Grant used a scale many Panthers fans would understand.

“It’d be huge,” he said. “It’d be on the same level as NASCAR. Just one day, though.”

But that isn’t enough to get him to devote his rooting interest to the Panthers exclusively. He’s been trying to figure out whether he should pull for the quarterback from his Tennessee family or the one from his actual family.

“Cam is from Georgia, so him bringing one back home, bringing one to the family, that’d be big,” he said. “Either way it falls, I’d be cool with it.”

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