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Panthers share Super Bowl thoughts


CHARLOTTE - The Super Bowl accounts for half of the 20 most-watched broadcasts in television history, but don't expect Panthers head coach Ron Rivera to contribute to this year's ratings.

"I might watch a couple of plays, but to me, it's exasperating to watch somebody else play when you think you should be there," Rivera said. "I'm a sore loser."

Plenty of Panthers players will be watching with the rest of the world when Super Bowl XLV kicks off Sunday at Cowboys Stadium (6:29 p.m., FOX), hoping that they can have a better vantage next season.

"The Super Bowl is the championship of your sport. I think you have to watch it," said offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, reminiscing about his family's annual viewing party at a friend's house growing up. "I just want to see a good game, and I think it will be.

"I like both teams and how they play. I don't really have a rooting interest."

As a kid, Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith watched one of the games in person, attending Super Bowl XXVII in 1993 between the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills at the Rose Bowl as part of a youth group helping out with the halftime show that featured Michael Jackson.

Smith didn't see the infamous halftime show that featured Janet Jackson the other time he attended the Super Bowl. He was busy in the locker room, getting ready for the second half along with his Panthers teammates during Super Bowl XXXVIII eight years ago.

Smith said he doesn't plan to attend another Super Bowl until he plays in it again.

Panthers linebacker Jason Williams plans to be in Dallas during the Super Bowl, but won't be attending the game. Williams, waived by the Cowboys midway through last season, coincidentally will be in town to "close shop" on his condo.

Williams said Cowboys Stadium is the perfect venue for the Super Bowl.

"I can't think of a better place to have the Super Bowl," he said. "Cowboys Stadium is definitely built to host something like that. The whole reason it was built was to put on a show.

"I'm pulling for Green Bay just because it's an NFC team, but me being from Chicago, I'm a Bears fan, so it's tough."

The Dallas area has been blanketed by unexpected snowfall, but nothing like Panthers punter Jason Baker's hometown of Fort Wayne, Ind. Baker had planned to be home for the game, but nearly three feet of snow has fallen there this week.

Baker traditionally has been a world away during the Super Bowl, often participating in USO trips to visit troops overseas. He stayed closer to home this year, visiting Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Fort Bragg in the last week, so he said he'd likely watch the Super Bowl this time around.

"But one of these years," Baker said, "I'd like to not be able to watch it because I'm playing in it."

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