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Carolina Panthers

Kalil's Super Bowl goal

Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil penned an open letter to Panthers fans in the form of a full page ad in the Charlotte Observer on Wednesday, emphatically ending it with "CAROLINA PANTHERS – SUPER BOWL XLVII CHAMPIONS!" and then his signature.

Later Wednesday, at the conclusion of a three-day camp leading up to training camp, Kalil's head coach and teammates signed off on his sentiment.

"If we don't have 53 guys with that same attitude walking in the building, then we need to find 53 guys that do," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "Ryan put it out there, and he wants his teammates to know he put it out there. The great thing is the reaction I've gotten from some of his teammates, from Jon Beason and Charles Johnson and Steve Smith. They said, 'OK, let's go.' "

Beason has used different forums to say much the same thing for months now. In fact, just two days after the Panthers concluded the 2011 season by winning four of their final six games to finish 6-10, Beason said in an interview with News 14 Carolina: "I really think we're going to win the whole thing next year."

Beason said Wednesday, "Back in January and February, anytime somebody put a mike in front of me, I was saying that we were going to win a Super Bowl as well. Ryan killed it the way he did it - putting it in the paper and not letting anybody paraphrase it at all. I loved it. I took a picture of it with my phone and got it out to the world on Twitter.

"That's the first part of it – the confidence. You've got to set a goal and believe in it, and then what you do day to day to work toward it is what makes it come true."

Before practice, Beason posted on his Twitter account: "Well said my brother! Belief is the 1st step to reality. 2013 Champions!"


Kalil's letter isn't the first time a current Panther has expressed such confidence in this team, and it's far from the first time such a thing has happened league-wide.

When previous predictions haven't ended with the Lombardi Trophy in hand, the prognosticating parties have been portrayed as having put their foot in the mouth.

Kalil's proclamation, however, feels more like a call to commitment than a call to coronate.

Two years ago, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan famously predicted that his team would win the Super Bowl. Ryan said he did it to maintain confidence in a team that had come within one game of the big game the year before, but his brash persona made it impossible regardless of his motives for such a statement to not haunt him.

The Jets again fell one game short, and Ryan again predicted a Super Bowl title last season. That only amped up the ridicule when the Jets didn't even make the playoffs.

Also last season, as the Philadelphia Eagles stockpiled talent before training camp that quickly vaulted them into a favorite's role, reserve quarterback Vince Young referred to his new team as a "dream team."

The Eagles, however, lost eight of their first 12 games and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Given the widespread belief that the Eagles would contend entering the season, Young's comment – fair or not -- came to be viewed as a sign that the Eagles believed their own press clippings and allowed overconfidence to affect their preparation.


Kalil's statement, by contrast, comes from a leader on a team that's excited about the chance to embrace growing expectations but hasn't been saddled with great expectations.

The Panthers haven't been a play or two away from the Super Bowl in recent seasons, nor did they make any major splashes in free agency that put the spotlight on them. Rather, they've steadily improved since bottoming out with a 2-14 season in 2010, they have a young quarterback that's the talk of the league, and now they're earnestly yearning for good things to come their way.

Rather than a conceited declaration that we're better than anyone else and we know it, Kalil's powerful prose reads like a concerted effort to call for fans and his teammates to dream along with him about what could come to fruition if the Panthers put in the labor.

"Do we know what's going to happen? No. But based on how he feels and what he believes, I'm right there behind him," Rivera said. "In fact, I'll step out in front and say the same thing: This is a group of men that if they understand and work hard and put it on themselves, who knows?

"The sky can be the limit, but first and foremost we've got to go out and do it now, do it during training camp to develop and become the football team that gives itself a chance to win every Sunday."

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