Panthers worried about 49ers, not Flair

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
4:25
PM ET
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick is a threat to beat the Carolina Panthers with his arm and his legs. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree will be the difference since he didn't play the first time these teams met.

But what about Ric Flair?

Do you feel betrayed?

There may have been just as many questions about the retired professional wrestler who has flip-flopped on his allegiance between Carolina and San Francisco as there were about players that actually mattered during the Panthers' media availability on Monday.

And, yes, I'm guilty of asking a few.

At least the players and coach Ron Rivera kept it in perspective as they began preparation for Sunday's NFC divisional playoff game against San Francisco.

"He's not going to line up on the field, so I'm not going to worry about it,'' Rivera said about Flair.

Whether or not Flair's signature "WOOOOOOO'' chant is heard on the field remains to be seen.

Cornerbacks Drayton Florence and Captain Munnerlyn, along with safety Mike Mitchell, last week taped a video of them doing the chant to run on the Bank of America JumboTron to pump up the crowd.

Florence even talked of inviting Flair, who has lived in Charlotte since 1974 and sent a motivational phone message to the team before their Monday night victory over New England, for a pregame motivational speech.

Since then, we've all learned that Flair flew to Wisconsin and gave the 49ers a motivational speech in the team hotel on Saturday night before they beat the Packers 23-20.

Flair went so far as to say his heart was with the 49ers "all the way to the end.'' Then on Monday, he wrote on Twitter: "49ers win! WOOOOO! Congrats SF! Obviously my pep talk worked! WOOOOO! #OldSchoolRaw."

Thus, the questions about betrayal.

"It really doesn't make any difference,'' Florence said. "It doesn't have nothing to do with the game.''

Asked whether the video would run or be scrapped, Florence said, "I don't think it's my choice, my decision. It's over my pay grade.''

Reminded the "WOOOOOOO'' has been the team's way of honoring players who received game balls after wins, that it has become sort of a team bonding thing, Florence said, "Yeah. That was during the regular season. It's the playoffs now. We're more worried about stopping Crabtree and Vernon Davis.''

Again, perspective.

Most of the players took the same attitude about it, although Munnerlyn did get in a little dig.

"I'm sure they gave him a little bit of money,'' he said of the 49ers. "But, no, I don't feel betrayed at all. You've got to do what you've got to do. We said the chant and then they came and [brought] him in.

"At the end of the day, it's a football game to be played. It's not about Ric Flair, it's not about no wrestling. It's about playing football on Sunday at 1:05.''

Exactly.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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