CHARLOTTE – The Panthers and Saints head coaches would prefer to just sweep this whole broom thing under the rug, but quarterback Cam Newton hasn't forgotten.
"If you need any type of boost, a kind of chip on your shoulder for this game – I have a constant reminder each and every day when I look in my locker at what I was gifted last year," Newton said before a long pause. "Can't wait."
So here's the deal. The Saints won all three games against the Panthers last season, ending Carolina's season in the NFC Wild Card round.
Afterward, New Orleans defensive end Cameron Jordan revealed on Instagram that he had sent Newton a bottle of wine.
"I appreciate him. So I'm gonna send him some sauce," Jordan said.
Jordan also apparently sent a broom to Newton (Saints head coach Sean Payton said he had "no idea" who sent the broom to Newton). That broom, and that unopened bottle of wine, has remained in Newton's locker ever since.
"The wine and they sent the broom too," Newton said. "I am going to return to sender if everything gets taken care of."
Jordan hasn't been shy about tweaking Newton over the years. But the two Cams are actually friendly away from football. Newton said he spent some time with Jordan this past offseason.
"We respectively dislike each other on the field," Newton said. "Off the field it's a different story."
Back to the broom. Payton and a bunch of Saints players danced with a broom in their locker room after completing the three-game sweep of Carolina.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera was asked if the broom would provide any added motivation as the teams prepare to meet on Monday Night Football.
"I have no thoughts on that," Rivera said, his team desperate for a win with playoff hopes dwindling. "That was last year."
Cornerback James Bradberry had this to say: "It's really disrespectful when somebody brings out the broom on you, but I mean, we did lose to them three times in a row. It is what it is. We've got to win this one."
Newton also called the whole broom thing "disrespectful." But later, he said it's "all out of fun."
This is what a good rivalry is all about.
The Saints were the Panthers' nemesis last year and they are NFC South champs for two years running. Jordan clearly likes the idea of being seen as Newton's personal nemesis.
Everyone will get a chance to hash out their differences on the field of play Monday night.
"We look forward to it," Newton said. "I know I am personally."