Thousands of Carolina Panthers fans gathered in Romare Bearden Park Friday afternoon for a rally before the team heads to the Super Bowl.
N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and county commissioner Trevor Fuller were among the local politicians who took the stage to pump up the crowd of fans decked in black and blue.
But the stars of the show were head coach Ron Rivera and the handful of Panthers players who stopped by to thank the crowd for their support. Rivera, whom McCrory declared “the best coach in the NFL,” was met with cheers and led the crowd in a “Keep Pounding” chant.
“Make sure we can hear you when we’re in Santa Clara,” Rivera said to the crowd.
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Players who came by included Scott Simonson, Nate Askew, Tre Boston, Ed Dickson, Mike Tolbert, Jonathan Stewart, Josh Norman and Thomas Davis.
“Trust and believe that we’ll give everything we have to bring that championship back to Charlotte,” said Davis, the linebacker whom quarterback Cam Newton nicknamed “Charlotte’s Sweetheart.”
Team departs for California on Sunday
Early Sunday afternoon, the team will leave by bus from Bank of America stadium, head to the airport and fly out to California.
A full week of activities begins on Monday with Super Bowl Opening Night, previously known as Media Day. The event will be held in primetime and will be broadcast live. Fans will be able to sit in the bleachers of the SAP Center in San Jose while thousands of journalists interview players and coaches on the floor.
The Panthers will play the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Feb. 7, in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium. The game will be on CBS, with kickoff at 6:30 p.m. Charlotte time.