In the weeks after Super Bowl 50, Carolina Panthers right tackle Mike Remmers returned home to Portland, Ore., to prepare for the arrival of his first child.
Remmers and his wife, Kelly, who is due on Mother’s Day with a baby boy, painted a nursery, began taking childbirth classes and attended a friend’s wedding in San Diego.
Remmers eventually got around to watching the Super Bowl, but he couldn’t get through all of it.
“It’s unfortunate,” Remmers said during a telephone interview Tuesday. “I’ll be kicking myself the rest of my life about that game. But it’s behind me, and there’s nothing I can do about it now except to learn and grow from it.
“I think that’s exactly what I’ve done. I’m going to continue to grow from this experience and looking forward to starting next season.”
The best season of Remmers’ four-year career ended in disappointment in Denver’s 24-10 victory in Santa Clara, Calif. Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller twice beat Remmers around the edge to sack and strip Cam Newton of the ball.
Those game-defining plays resulted in 15 points and propelled Miller to most valuable player honors. Meanwhile, Remmers was left with a bitter taste and the knowledge that he’ll be a part of Miller’s Super Bowl highlights for perpetuity.
“It was an amazing experience going to the Super Bowl, but you wish you’d remember it for winning it. So I’m a little upset that we didn’t win it,” Remmers said. “But it’s all in the past now. The only thing I can do is learn from it and grow from it. I’m over it. Looking forward to next season.”
Remmers moved a step further away from last season Tuesday when he signed his restricted free-agent tender, which guarantees him $2.55 million for 2016. Remmers said coach Ron Rivera and general manager Dave Gettleman congratulated him after he put pen to paper at Bank of America Stadium.
Gettleman offered a public defense of Remmers at the NFL scouting combine during February, pointing out the Panthers had won 22 of their past 26 games with Remmers starting at right tackle.
“I’m not a knee-jerk guy. I’m not going to do it,” Gettleman said in Indianapolis. “He’s young in his career now. Don’t take a snapshot and decide that we need a right tackle.”
Remmers is expected to head to training camp as the starter, but he’ll have to hold off second-year tackle Daryl Williams and maybe a draft pick.
Remmers learned a couple of tough lessons trying to combat Miller’s speed rush, saying he needs to do a better job using his hands and keeping his shoulders square.
“I always want to be 100 percent on my pass sets, my run blocks,” Remmers said. “Just my leverage, everything. I always want to improve everything.”
Remmers, 27, was an NFL vagabond before the Panthers snagged him off St. Louis’ practice squad in 2014. He went undrafted out of Oregon State in 2012 before Denver, coincidentally, signed him as a free agent.
He bounced from Denver to Tampa Bay as a rookie before making stops in San Diego, Minnesota and St. Louis over the next two seasons. But the Panthers gave him a shot in 2014 after injuries to Nate Chandler, and Remmers made the most of it.
He started the final five games that season and remained a starter in 2015 for an offense that led the league in scoring. While Remmers was ranked 60th among all tackles in pass blocking by Pro Football Focus last season, he’s a solid run blocker who has meshed well with Pro Bowl right guard Trai Turner.
‘An amazing opportunity’
All those moves early in his career and the time he spent on practice squads have given Remmers an appreciation of his livelihood.
“It’s such an amazing opportunity just to be able to go out there and play in the NFL. It’s such a slim amount of people that get to do that. I’m just trying to do everything I can to take advantage of the situation and do the best I possibly can,” he said. “Not every play’s been a home run. But just trying to learn and grow and continue to develop and be the best player I can possibly be.”
Remmers also wants to be the best father he can be, although he’s smart enough to give credit where it’s due.
“Kelly’s done an amazing job getting everything lined up,” he said of his wife, “so I’m just trying to follow her lead.”
While Miller followed his Super Bowl success with a star turn on “Dancing with the Stars,” Remmers has stayed well under the radar – like every offseason. He trimmed his long, reddish beard, spent time with friends and family in Portland and continued getting ready for the baby.
His lone contribution to the nursery decor was putting one of his Panthers helmets in the room.
“It’s kind of got a little nature theme to it, so the football stuff didn’t quite go with it,” he said. “But we had to throw some Panther stuff in there.”
The Carolina colors are prominent, too.
“Definitely blue,” Remmers said. “Everything’s blue.”
Because of his contract, the baby and his NFL job, that doesn’t include Remmers – despite what happened in Super Bowl 50.