Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil bought a newspaper ad promising a Super Bowl run. His coach bought a box of T-shirts supporting Kalil’s pledge in The Charlotte Observer.
Panthers players have been wearing shirts with a Panthers’ logo on the front and the message, “I have Ryan Kalil’s back” on the back.
They were placed in players’ lockers last week at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where the Panthers practiced for four days before their Week 1 loss at Tampa Bay. Kalil said he appreciated Ron Rivera’s gesture.
“Coach had them there. I believe it when he says that,” Kalil said Thursday. “We’ve just got to make sure we’ve got his back, and get done what we’ve got to get done.”
Before the Panthers began training camp in July, Kalil bought a full-page ad in the Observer that he called a rallying cry for the fans. He wrote about ending the season in New Orleans with a “sterling silver victory.”
Offensive lineman Garry Williams thought the ad – and shirts – were great.
“We all wear it with pride because that’s what we believe. We all have his back. The statement he made in the paper shows true leadership. I’ve had his back since day one, and I still do,” Williams said.
“You see a lot of guys wearing it around here – not just a T-shirt to have one, but because they believe in what’s on the back.”