Football and wrestling fans alike have been wondering whether WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair would support the San Francisco 49ers or the Carolina Panthers during their divisional playoff clash on Sunday, Jan. 12, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., but it turns out that "The Nature Boy" won't be present.
Updates from Friday, Jan 10:
According to a report from Erik Spanburg and Susan Stabley of The Charlotte Business Journal, the death threats aren't the only thing keeping Flair out of Carolina for Sunday's game:
All of which sets up an intriguing subplot for the game Sunday: Whether Flair might make an appearance in the stands or on the sidelines (Panthers or Niners?) at BofA Stadium.
Considering the fact that Flair (real name: Richard Fliehr) has an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Mecklenburg County, he might want to think twice before tackling a playoff visit.
On July 3, Mecklenburg District Court Judge Christy T. Mann signed an order for the arrest of one Richard Fliehr on contempt of court violations. Legal documents show the former wrestler failed to meet the terms of a June 18 order.
That order called for the wrestler to pay $32,352.51 in unpaid post-separation support and legal fees by 5 p.m. on June 27 and maintain support of his estranged spouse’s car lease and insurance and health insurance, documents show.
Of note: the court order says Flair/Fliehr's failure to meet the deadline means he would be required to turn himself in and “shall remain in the custody of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff until he pays all sums required…”
As of Thursday afternoon, a warrant for Flair's arrest is still outstanding, according to the sheriff's office. The next hearing is set for Jan. 24 in Mecklenburg County.
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Flair's pep talk to the 49ers prior to their Wild Card Round game against the Green Bay Packers went viral, as seen in this video courtesy of WWE:
As awe-inspiring as it was, it also raised eyebrows due to the fact that Flair is a Charlotte native. Helping out the Niners was viewed as betrayal by many, and it led to threats being levied against the 16-time world champion, according to Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer:
The 49er pep talk, which instantly went viral, caused many Carolina fans to voice their feelings of anger and betrayal on social media – some even offering death threats to Flair. "We know fans are passionate about their teams, but some of the choice language we have been receiving is scaring off our interns," said Melinda Morris Zanoni, Flair's agent at Legacy Talent and Entertainment.
Because of that, Flair has made the decision to watch this heated contest from home.
"Ric does not intend on attending the Panthers vs. 49ers game this weekend," Zanoni said.
As a guy who actually has a Ric Flair robe I'm real disappointed in seeing that. Real disappointed. I'm not sure if he'll (Flair) get the invite here. That Golden Gate Bridge has been burned.
Should the Panthers be mad at Ric Flair?
Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh is among those who doesn't understand the vitriol that has been spewed in Flair's direction since the speech, according to ESPN.com.
"What's the matter with having two favorite teams? Is that a crime? My opinion would be that it doesn't make you a bad person to have two favorite football teams," Harbaugh said.
As disappointed as the Panthers and their fans seem to be with Flair, the 49ers appear to have made a new friend. Several Niner players shared their Flair experience on social media, including defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey in this Instagram photo:
This game promises to be a close one since the 49ers and Panthers are two of the best defensive teams in football and Carolina came away with a 10-9 victory over San Francisco during the regular season.
As Flair so often did over the course of his wrestling career, he has added fuel to the fire.
Flair famously said, "To be the man, you've gotta beat the man." The Panthers may be disillusioned with the wrestling legend, but they'll need to heed his advice in the divisional round to knock off the defending NFC champions.
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