CHARLOTTE – The number 51 is significant for the Carolina Panthers.
Linebacker Sam Mills, the author of the franchise's famous "Keep Pounding" motto, wore that number. Many have already drawn the connection to Super Bowl 51, which will be played in Houston, the site of Carolina's first Super Bowl appearance in 2004.
Head coach Ron Rivera, days removed from the Panthers' loss in Super Bowl 50, is well aware of the connections. During a radio interview with WFNZ-AM 610 Friday morning, he shared his thoughts.
"There are so many similarities, there are so many coincidences coming up with this," Rivera said. "And let's not forget, (51) is also the number that Mr. Richardson wore when he was at Wofford. There's a lot of things that are in play. The key is how we approach this offseason."
"There are certain things that have to happen," he added. "Obviously, we are going to lose some players and we have to make sure we replace them with quality players. And secondly, we can't just show up and expect people to roll over. The thing we have to understand it, when we show up, people are going to give us their 'A' game, period.
"We're not sneaking up on anybody."