The Carolina Panthers and the city of Charlotte may not have been on the nation’s radar as a powerhouse before, but they sure are now.
So says North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who was on the sidelines at Bank of America Stadium Sunday to watch the Panthers win their first home NFC Championship Game.
“Like North Carolina, like Charlotte, the Carolina Panthers are underappreciated, and we like it that way. Because we surprise everybody,” McCrory said.
The Carolinas and their NFL team, McCrory continued, are “in the big time now.”
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“Nikki and I will celebrate together,” he said of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
The Panthers will beat the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl Feb. 7, McCrory predicted: “I think we’re going to blow them out.”
McCrory was donning a customized No. 33 Panthers jersey, one he received when he was mayor of Charlotte in 2004, the last time the Panthers went to the Super Bowl.
It was the first time McCrory wore the jersey, which has all the signatures of the players from over a decade ago.
“This is now Tre Boston’s jersey. But 10 years ago, I don’t think anyone had 33, so I took it,” McCrory said.
The Panthers beat the Arizona Cardinals 49-15 Sunday in Charlotte. They advance to the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history, playing the Broncos Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, Calif.