Scott Stapp loves that the Carolina Panthers are “Creedbombing” each other, and now he loves the Panthers.
Stapp was a founding member and lead singer of Creed, one of the most commercially successful rock bands of the late 1990s and early 2000s. When he found out last week about Creedbombing in the Panthers’ locker room, he became a fan.
“I’ve been cheering for these guys so hard,” Stapp told me in a phone interview Tuesday. “I had to move my tour bus like five different places so I could get reception and watch (the NFC Championship Game) the other night. I’m so fired up and pumped up for these guys. They are my team right now.”
Creedbombing was created by backup linebacker Ben Jacobs in collaboration with tight end Greg Olsen and athletic performance analyst Brett Nenaber. Jacobs will take a lyric from one of Creed’s hit songs and, in Stapp’s signature raspy voice, belt it out on a teammate while walking to the practice field.
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“The key is you’ve got to make really deep, direct eye contact,” Jacobs told me last week. “So if you Creedbomb someone you’ve got to look them directly in the eye.”
So whether it’s a lyric from “Higher” (“Can you take me higher? To a place where blind men see) or “One Last Breath” (Hold me now! I’m 6 feet from the edge and I’m thinking …) or another song, the movement has spread in the locker room.
After last week’s 49-15 victory over the Cardinals to move on to Super Bowl 50, cornerback Josh Norman Creedbombed safety Kurt Coleman during an interview.
“Above all the others we’ll fly/This brings tears to my eyes/My sacrifice,” Norman sang. “That’s a Creedbomb right there!”
Stapp wants to meet the team. He even wants to shoot a video with them that involves Creedbombing.
Stapp is from Florida and he’s a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan. He’s also a die-hard University of Alabama fan – he said he was probably wrapped in a Crimson Tide blanket when he was born – but he has long admired Cam Newton.
Creed hasn’t toured since 2012, but Stapp is still traveling as a solo artist on his Proof of Life tour. He’ll play 10 to 12 Creed songs in a show and then six or seven songs from his two solo albums, and he’s said he has been playing for sell-out crowds at smaller venues.
Last week he was at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro doing a show, and he was in Buffalo Tuesday afternoon when he took the Observer’s call.
When he first read about Creedbombing in an Observer online story, he felt honored.
“Like, are you serious? This is so cool,” Stapp said. “And I just felt like, hey man, there are Creed fans on the Panthers?”
But then he took a step back and realized how funny it is to look directly into someone’s eyes and unleash a Creed lyric out of nowhere.
“I just started dying laughing,” Stapp said. “And then the next thing you know, my band is doing it to me out on tour. And I saw the humor in it and saw how funny it was. I think it’s awesome.”
There is an element of the joke being on him, though. Jacobs said he, like a lot of millennials, was a fan of Creed growing up. Creed had three consecutive multi-platinum albums almost 15 years ago but have been mocked by some since.
“With Arms Wide Open” won the 2001 Grammy for Best Rock Song, but in later years rock fans voted Creed the worst ’90s band in a Rolling Stone survey.
Some of the criticism has stemmed from Stapp’s personal problems, he said. He has fought bipolar disorder that, along with drug and alcohol abuse, led to a public meltdown via Facebook in late 2014.
“The fact that Creed is still in the conversation 20 years later I think speaks for volumes for how the music has impacted people,” Stapp said. “I think some of my personal struggles contributed to some of the criticism, and rightfully so. But I think the music on its own has, so far, stood the test of time. It’s still showing its impact on pop culture 20 years later.”
Stapp swears he’s not a bandwagon fan, but how could he not cheer for Carolina? He’s going to buy a Panthers hat and jersey and, somewhere between his shows in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Little Rock, Ark., find a place to watch Super Bowl 50 and root for the Panthers.
And if he can’t get together with the guys this week or next week to do a video, he has a message for them.
He wants to Creedbomb them.
“I would take it from the song ‘What If.’ I would say, ‘The more you hold us down, the more we press on.’
“This is how I used to do every show early in my career and it’s stuck with me: I’d play every show like it was the last time I would ever be doing a show. And that energy and that passion came through and connected with the fans.
“I would tell these guys, and I know it’s the Super Bowl so they’re amped up, but take it to the next level. Play it like it’s the last time you’re ever going to play football again in your life. What do you want your legacy to be? I would tell them just kill it.”