There has been a lot of back and forth about Ric Flair giving the San Francisco 49ers a motivational speech Saturday night in Wisconsin. In the speech, Flair told the team his "heart' was with the 49ers, predicted they would beat Green Bay and also that the 49ers would come to Charlotte and beat Carolina.
So my question is: Who cares?
Flair is a washed-up, 64-year-old former star of a very fake "sport" who doesn't even live in Charlotte anymore.
He can give a speech to anyone he wants to, but he is not the Panthers' No.1 celebrity fan and has not been for a long time. Not even close. I give you two alternatives -- both of whom are in their athletic prime, don't get in trouble with the law and love the Panthers.
No.1 is Stephen Curry, who grew up in Charlotte, went to Davidson, still has a home in the Queen City and is an NBA star for Golden State.
No.2 is John Isner, the best American tennis player out there. He grew up in Greensboro, is friends with Steve Smith and is such a huge Panther fan that he will watch them in the middle of the night overseas on his laptop and can discuss their depth at offensive line in remarkable detail.
Those are the sorts of fans the Panthers need to be proud of, along with the 73,000 who will fill Bank of America Stadium Sunday.
Flair? He's yesterday's news -- Ric, 1976 called, and it wants its "Woooo" back. Panther fans don't need Flair, and he obviously doesn't need them, although he tried in a backhanded way to make nice with the team in a brief interview with my buddy, Observer sports columnist Tom Sorensen. The way Flair claimed his heart was also with the Panthers was an insult to any Panther fan's intelligence who saw his motivational speech.
As wide receiver Steve Smith aptly put it Monday, Flair has burned his "Golden Gate bridge" with the Panthers. Or as one wrestling fan wrote me, brimming with rage about Flair's speech: This wrestler has turned "trader."
He meant "traitor," but I liked the double meaning. Flair traded in the Panthers for the 49ers. And what Panther fans should be saying right now are two words:
11 months ago