When Snoop Dogg talks, Panthers listen.
The rap icon, working as a correspondent for “The Rich Eisen Show”, took over Carolina’s media availability Thursday and met with or interviewed nearly every Panthers player in attendance.
Rookie receiver Devin Funchess was awestruck when he shook Snoop’s hand. Running back Jonathan Stewart told him that “Snoop” was his nickname growing up.
Quarterback Cam Newton spent a moment with Snoop Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, before his news conference. And Snoop asked Newton if the kid in him outweighs the man in him this week.
“Half of me tries to be as professional as possible, but the human in me just wants to take it all in, you know what I’m saying?” Newton said. “So it’s hard for me to give you like a direct answer without bringing both sides out.
“Of course the professional side, you still have to go through meetings, try to come up with any type of edge, because you’re still preparing for a team, but all the festivities, the media, everything leading up into it, all you see is Panthers-Broncos conversations on TV, it’s hard not to just take it all in. I mean it’s hard.”
Snoop Dogg, a cultural force himself, said he loves the celebrations that Newton brings to the game.
“I’m loving what he represents, what he stands for and how he’s such a class act in doing,” Snoop Dogg said. “A lot of kids look up to him. A lot of kids in my football league look up to him. He’s a great inspiration and I want to let him know he’s doing a great job and keep up the good work.”
Spencer Hawes: Not only did the Charlotte Hornets center pick a winner, he upped the difficulty with an MVP pick. “Let me go 31-13 Panthers, with the MVP being Greg Olsen,” Hawes said. And why are the Panthers going to win? “Because they beat the Seahawks,” said Hawes, who was born in Seattle.
LeBron James: The Cleveland Cavaliers superstar, in Charlotte on Wednesday to face the Hornets, wouldn’t make a prediction, but not because he isn’t interested. “I just hope it’s a great one,” he said. “I don’t have a team. I’m a fan of Cam (Newton) for sure. Ted Ginn is a friend of mine. I look forward to seeing a great game and we’ll see what happens.”
Snoop Dogg: The rapper likes the Panthers 35-14. “Spirit,” he said during Thursday’s media session. “This spirit over here is fun, but they’re serious about their business. Any time you’re playing football and having fun, that spirit is contagious.”
▪ Dinner late Wednesday night for part of the Observer crew was at John’s Grill in San Francisco, the setting for “The Maltese Falcon,” a novel by Dashiell Hammett. Hope they don’t look too close at the expense report.
▪ Prices in San Francisco, on many things, seem to be about double what they are in Charlotte. A cobb salad and an iced tea ran almost $18 at lunch (at a food court deli) and a gallon of regular gas a block from the NFL media center was $3.50. Bless their hearts.
▪ On Wednesday night, a Dallas Cowboys bus was parked out in front of the Four Seasons Hotel, despite the fact that – news flash! – the Dallas Cowboys are not playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
▪ San Francisco feels very, very different from Charlotte, although here’s one similarity: The guy yelling and thumping the Bible out in front of the Moscone Center, site of the NFL Experience and the NFL Shop, is reminiscent of the guy who does that before pretty much every event at Time Warner Cable Arena.
▪ In Chinatown on Wednesday night, the streets were full of Chinese folks but the best-rated restaurant on Yelp and TripAdvisor was full of white people.
▪ On Market Street, not far from the Moscone Center, a homeless man sat sleeping in the middle of the sidewalk, with head bowed and legs crossed. Thirty feet away, another homeless man was lying fast asleep on his side. With handcuffs around his wrists. And three San Francisco Police Department officers standing over him.
▪ ESPN’s Suzy Kolber sat with Panthers receivers coach Ricky Proehl for an extended period during the team’s media availability Thursday, not interviewing him. Just sitting and talking, oblivious to the fact that other reporters were waiting.
▪ Peyton Manning was asked if this Denver team could have reached the Super Bowl with John Fox as its coach. “I don’t get into comparisons,” Manning said. “It’s easy to do, but like I mentioned earlier, I was grateful to play for coach Fox. ... John Fox was a big reason I came to Denver.”
▪ Whether it’s truth or lobbying, Panthers defensive end Jared Allen sounds ready to go on his recently broken foot. Asked how the foot feels Thursday, he said, “Great; everything is phenomenal.”
They said it
▪ “I think certainly by this point a lot of talk has been done. If we are counting on a pregame speech to get us over the top on Sunday I think our practices haven’t gone real well and our game plan is not real good.” – Manning.
▪ “I cut all (the ticket requests) out early. I let it be known I’m only taking my mom and my three brothers.” – Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson, a northern California native.
▪ “I woke up this morning and I open the curtains and I see the hills, the valleys and plains. So gorgeous. It’s like from a movie script.” – Panthers cornerback Josh Norman.
▪ “We appreciated the thought.” – Panthers offensive tackle Mike Remmers on linebacker Luke Kuechly growing his hair out in support when he couldn’t grow a beard like the offensive linemen.
JONATHAN JONES, MICHAEL PERSINGER, DAVID SCOTT AND THÉODEN JAMES CONTRIBUTED.