The Carolina Panthers have been in the news a lot in the final days before training camp commences at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina on July 28, but no one made bigger headlines than Panthers center Ryan Kalil did with his full-page ad in the Charlotte Observer predicting a Super Bowl victory for his team this season.
Earlier in the week, Carolina traded away oft-injured right tackle Jeff Otah to the New York Jets and traded for former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy. Both deals included compensatory draft selections in exchange for the player's services and the Otah deal is up in the air after he failed his physical with the Jets.
However, Ryan Kalil's bold prediction that the Carolina Panthers would win Super Bowl XLVII in February 2013 is the talk of the NFL today.
Sirius XM's NFL Radio spoke with Kalil, whose younger brother Matt Kalil agreed to terms with the Minnesota Vikings today, and the Panthers' All-Pro center stated that his ad was meant to display his confidence and belief in his team.
Kalil added that all NFL players started out as football fans and he wanted to send a message to the Panthers' faithful that his team has all the parts in place for a special season.
Though the Panthers finished 6-10 in 2011 following a 2-14 season in 2010, expectations are high for a winning season in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The last time Carolina had the worst record in the NFL, a 1-15 finish in 2001, they responded with a 11-5 record in 2004 and a trip to Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Unlike Kalil, I am not predicting a Super Bowl victory for Carolina this season, but I do expect them to win at least ten games and contend for a playoff berth.
After that, all things are possible.
Ryan Kalil just got the entire NFL nation's attention and set the tone for the Carolina Panthers' season.
He also further energized a Panthers fan base that is beyond excited for the start of the NFL season.
Though Kalil's Super Bowl prediction pales in comparison to Joe Namath's famous guarantee of a Jets victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, it sets a precedent for boldness by an NFL lineman and it gives NFL fans just one more reason to pay attention to the Carolina Panthers in 2012.
And while many Panthers fans will be happy with a trip to the 2013 NFL Playoffs, it is good to know that the Carolina's players and coaches have the bar set just a little bit higher.
Jimmy Grappone is a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Carolina Panthers for Bleacher Report since 2008.
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