The Carolina Panthers are ready to let the past be the past. Unfortunately, however, the NFL schedule doesn’t permit that.
Carolina is set to begin the regular season on Thursday against the team they last saw carrying the Lombardi Trophy with confetti draped around them.
Even though the Panthers lost Super Bowl 50, 24-10, to the Denver Broncos and begin the season with the same opponent, Ron Rivera is confident his team is ready to start fresh in 2016.
“We’re going forward. That’s what the message has been with these players all along is we’ve got to go forward,” Rivera said, per The Charlotte Oberver, before quoting his former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka.
“Mike Ditka used to say the past is for cowards and losers, people that don’t want to let go.”
Carolina returns most of its key players and will have their top wide receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, back from a torn ACL. Their lone glaring weakness is in the secondary with the departure of All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman.
Still, the Panthers are on a short list of teams with a legitimate chance of winning the Super Bowl this season.
“We want to use this as a springboard into 2016,” Rivera added earlier in the week, “not backward into 2015.”