Dear Carolina Panthers fans: Get ready for a Super Bowl season.
That is the message from Panthers center Ryan Kalil, who took out a full page ad in Wednesdays Observer to promise fans their unwavering support would be rewarded this year.
With what he calls One hundred-percent, sterling silver victory. The Lombardi Trophy.
Kalil, a three-time Pro Bowl participant, came to the Observer newsroom and shared the 178-word open letter after buying the ad, which he called a war cry to the fans. In it, he predicts this Panthers season will end in New Orleans, with the first Super Bowl title in the franchises 18-year history.
Kalil did not tell anyone with the team about the ad, because he didnt want to be talked out of doing it.
Every team says it every year, whether its publicly or not, Kalil said. They say theyre going to win the Super Bowl.
Weve said it in the past in meeting rooms and behind closed doors. This years different. Theres a sense of urgency, a winning attitude that I havent seen before. And its in the way we prepare. Its in the way we approach each work day, and I think fans will see it in the way that we play.
The Panthers went 6-10 last year in Ron Riveras first year as coach. But with quarterback Cam Newton, the Rookie of the Year in 2011, spearheading an offensive resurgence and several defensive starters expected to return from injury, some prognosticators are picking the Panthers to contend for a playoff berth.
Kalil took it a step further, writing that the Panthers would win the Super Bowl.
Kalil, a second-round pick from Southern Cal in 2007, was back in California last month when the muse struck.
It was one of those things I was literally up all night and I was thinking about it, and just went to my computer and started writing, Kalil said.
Kalil, who is active on Twitter, liked the idea of sharing his thoughts in a format that wasnt paraphrased or restricted to 140 characters.
For eighteen years weve wanted, hoped and tried, Kalil writes in the letter. But no more. A moment is upon us, where dreams become beliefs and yearning becomes conviction.
Joe Namath would be proud. Namath, the brash New York Jets quarterback, guaranteed a victory three days before Super Bowl III a 16-7 Jets victory over Baltimore.
Its a bold statement to make, Kalil said. People have done it before.
Vince Young, then a backup quarterback in Philadelphia, infamously labeled the Eagles a Dream Team last summer. The Eagles lost four of their first five games and finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs.
Kalil conceded it will not be an easy road. But with the team set to report to training camp in Spartanburg on Friday, Kalil believes the Panthers are on the verge of a special season.
Theres something different going on with the Panthers. Theres a different attitude, a sense of urgency, a different mindset that I havent seen since Ive been here, Kalil told the Observer. And the sentiment is widespread. Its not just in the players or the coaches. But the entire organization.
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