Panthers search for a cure to Super Bowl hangover

Panthers Camp FootballThe Carolina Panthers opened training camp Thursday hoping to end one of the NFL’s oddest streaks – the Super Bowl hangover.

Not since the 1993 Buffalo Bills as a team that lost the Super Bowl returned to the big game. Only the 1971 Dallas Cowboys and 1972 Miami Dolphins have lost the Super Bowl and returned to win it the next year.

The 23-year hangover was yet again a topic of conversation as players arrived in Spartanburg for the first day of training camp. So what’s the cause of this curious curse?

“It’s human nature,” said tight end Greg Olsen, who experienced the phenomenon in 2007 as a member of the Chicago Bears. “I think everyone just assumes, ‘Hey, you’ve got the same guys back. Why would it be any different?’ I think the answer is every game is different; every season is different.

“I think from a human instinct perspective, you kind of rest on your laurels. We’ve identified that from Day 1. That can’t be the case with us. We’re going to start from one, and we’re going to build that platform starting with OTAs to minicamp and now to training camp.”

Fullback and Coastal Carolina product Mike Tolbert isn’t a big believer in curses. “History said that nobody won NFC South twice or three times in a row,’ he said. “We did it, so why can’t it be done?”

That’s the attitude the Panthers brought into a camp. Apathy wasn’t a problem Thursday when an unprecedented 22,445 fans attended opening day with wild enthusiasm. The festivities began with the Lowe’s Kickoff Party and ended with an unofficial autograph party. Coach Ron Rivera hopes his team can maintain that high level throughout camp and beyond.

“The first practice is always high energy and thrilling. Then it wears off real fast, and the drudgery of camp begins to set in,” Rivera said. “But it was a nice start for it. Setting the tone the way we did, our guys set a good example of the things we need to do and the way we need to practice to become a better football team.”

Carolina hopes setting the tone from the start is the key to ending the streak. If the Panthers are going to find a cure, it needs to happen sooner rather than later.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Olsen said, “we take this very seriously. This is too hard to come out and just half-assed and find ourselves 1-4 asking, ‘What’s going on?’ We’re not going to allow that to be the problem and that all starts with our preparation here at camp.”

Photo courtesy of Carolina Panthers

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