Ron Rivera’s packing list for the trip to California and Super Bowl 50 includes the usual assortment of gear that a head coach brings along for road games, but with one very valuable exception.
The Panthers’ coach said he will be traveling with the championship ring he won as a linebacker with the Bears in Super Bowl XX.
“I’ve tried to make the point that it represents everything that you’ve gone through and the people that have played,” Rivera said Friday. “It’s not necessarily about the ring. It’s the people it stands for.”
He said he seldom wears the symbol of one of the NFL’s great teams.
“On occasion,” he said. “Special events.”
This week would seem to qualify. But that does not mean he’ll be flaunting it. He said he’s not even sure he will show it to his players before they take the field on Feb. 7. They’ve seen it before, he said. He wants them to focus on winning their own.
“The thing I’ve told the players is this is about Super Bowl 50,” he said. “It’s an event. At the end of the event is the game, and that’s what we’re focusing on. I told them embrace it, enjoy it, live it, but at the end of the day, we have to play the game.”
To that end, the Panthers held their final practice in Charlotte on Friday, going with full pads. They will be given the day off Saturday, although many will take advantage of various recovery treatments. Then the Panthers will fly to the San Francisco Bay Area on Sunday afternoon.
”It’s good to get the feeling of hitting,” center Ryan Kalil said after Friday’s practice. “If you go two weeks without hitting, that’s a long time. We’ve done a good job with that schedule. We did the same thing before the first playoff game. It obviously worked for us, so we stuck with it.”
The Panthers have installed most of their game plan for the Broncos. Rivera said he wanted that done before the team arrives in California, allowing them to refine the plays and schemes once they get there.
”We’ve laid the groundwork,” safety Kurt Coleman said. “Once we get out there, we’ll do some touch-up work and continue to get detail-oriented. It’s been a great week of preparation. It’s very exciting. We’re ready for this moment. We’ve been preparing for it all year.”
A pack-6 for Cam. Panthers equipment manager Jackie Miles told ESPN that he is packing six Super Bowl game-day jerseys for Cam Newton. Three of them will be set aside for any charity events in California, which often is a requirement of a Super Bowl team. The other three will be on hand in case of inclement weather on the day of the game.
“If we’re rained on pregame, we’d switch them after pregame for the first half,” Miles said Friday. “And then if it rained in the first half, we’d switch them at halftime for the second half.”
It has been a rainy winter in the San Francisco area, but the long-range forecast for Feb. 7 shows sunny skies with a high in the mid-50s.
Not that the Panthers are trusting that outlook.
”I have a winter trunk packed, too,” Miles said. “We’re prepared. We’re not going to be packed for Minnesota cold, but I have the nice baseball jackets packed.”