Steve Smith really hopes Ric Flair has a comfortable seat on that San Francisco 49ers bandwagon, because there's no room left in Carolina.
Don't go barging into the Panthers locker room and think your past history buys you any goodwill. In fact, the Panthers cannot be wooed at the moment.
Kissing Suzy Kolber's Eric Sollenberger spotted a tweet from The Charlotte Observer's Tom Sorensen that makes it fairly obvious the rest of the Panthers' season may be captivating, dazzling and possibly prolific, but it will most certainly lack Flair.
Ric Flair & Steve Smith are buddies. But Smith wasn't too friendly Monday. About Flair he said: "That San Francisco bridge has been burned."— Tom Sorensen (@tomsorensen) January 6, 2014
Sollenberger would like to remind you that Flair's ties to the Panthers run deeper than being mere bros with Smith. Not only is he from Charlotte—Sorensen reports he's lived there since the 1970s—his famous call features heavily with this season's iteration of the Panthers.
ESPN's Dave Newton breaks down how big the "woo!" has been for this team:
Cornerback Drayton Florence actually came up with the idea one day in practice. He suggested that the defensive backs break with two claps and a "WOOOOOOO!"
Next thing you know the linebackers were doing it. Then the entire defense was doing it. Then the offense wanted to get involved.
Eventually, it led to whoever gets the game ball following a victory having to give two claps followed by the entire team going "WOOOOOO!"
Sollenberger actually provides a nice little soundbite of what it sounds like in the locker room.
It makes sense the team would corral around one of its own. Hell, he even sent it a phone message prior to its Monday Night win over the Patriots on Nov. 18, via Newton.
Here is what he had to say, via Sollenberger.
Hey boys, it's The Nature Boy Ric Flair calling you live from Atlanta, Ga. Tonight's the night guys. The New England Patriots are in town. Who cares? It's Carolina Panther time guys. And remember, tonight is the night, and to be the team you've got to be the team.
Cam Newton, athletic gifts unparalleled. Steve Smith, the baddest man in the NFL. My good buddy Mario, you guys do it tonight. Remember, to be the team, you've got to beat the team. And right now you are the team, and will be all night long. Let's do it guys. Let's have two claps and a Ric Flair WOOOOOOO! Go Panthers. WOOOOOOO!
So what gives?
Well, we like to remind you that Flair's propensity to excite teams is only rivaled by Ray Lewis, because he recently met in person with the 49ers ahead of their 23-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
Here is that video:
It was obviously the "Ric Flair's heart is with the 49ers, all the way to the end" that did it. However, the "beat the Green Bay Packers. And from there, either beat the Panthers or beat the Seahawks" had to have stung as well.
We don't know if Smith is just joking, or if he is indeed giving the wrestling legend a cold shoulder. However, we simply have to ask to see the footage of when the two men come face to face once again.
Seeing as how we might see Tim Tebow under center well before that moment, we dug through and found a suitable video clip of what that might look like instead:
In the video, Flair does reference his hatred of the Cowboys, and states that he has been fond of the 49ers for quite some time, so perhaps they have been his team all along.
Sorensen states in his Observer report that he hasn't heard back from Flair, but he was able to leave him a message.
This is all just silly peripheral to what really matters, namely that big game the Panthers and Niners share on Sunday.
The only thing we know with certainty is there is just one locker room that will get in a big booming "Woo!" before kickoff.
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