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Broncos and Panthers begin final Super Bowl preparations

Posted Feb 3, 2016

If a week is a long time in politics, then it might feel even longer to NFL players gearing up for a Super Bowl. Host cities come with plenty of distractions, and staying out of trouble is one of the many challenges a team must face in the days leading up to the title game.

Both teams’ head coaches have placed their trust in players to make good decisions this year. Gary Kubiak revealed last week that he let the Broncos’ captains to set the evening curfew time for the team, although Peyton Manning noted that his initial suggestion of 9pm had gone down poorly.

Ron Rivera confirmed on Tuesday that he had taken a similar decision for the Panthers, putting the decision in the hands of his veteran players. They settled on midnight, with an obligation to check in with the two police officers and a security guard on their floor of the team hotel in San Jose.

As a former Super Bowl-winning player himself, Rivera understands the benefits to not spending a whole week cooped up indoors. The Bears team with which he triumphed 30 years ago was coached by Mike Ditka, who actively encouraged players to get out of the hotel and experience the atmosphere in New Orleans.

But Rivera said the set-up this year, with teams staying outside the host city, made things a little more complicated. “We’re talking 40 miles to go north to San Francisco where everything’s happening,” he said. “I think this is a tough venue because where we are [in San Jose] and the activity’s up [in San Francisco]. So I do worry about [Tuesday] night. We’ve got our fingers crossed. I hope everybody’s back on time.”

To reinforce the importance of staying out of trouble, he also invited Eugene Robinson to speak to his players. A former NFL safety for several teams, including Carolina, Robinson was arrested on the eve of Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami - a game in which he was due to play for Atlanta - for soliciting an undercover police officer.

Although he still played the following day, Robinson gave up an 80-yard touchdown and blew a key tackle in a 34-19 loss, and was accused of undermining his team. “It was painful. I cried the entire night,” recalled Robinson. “It’s easy to lose your way when you’re selfish and you’re only thinking about yourself. That’s what I did.”

Perhaps Denver’s Ryan Murphy might have benefited from hearing the same message. The practice squad safety was sent home by the Broncos on Tuesday after he was caught up in a prostitution sting. He had been questioned by police and released, while his brother and a suspected prostitute received citations following an incident in a motel parking lot, according to San Jose TV station KPIX 5.

Although Murphy was not charged with any offence, Kubiak said via a statement that the Broncos had “decided it was best if we continued our preparation for Super Bowl 50 without him.”

Three more things you might have missed

- The Browns have given a strong hint that they plan to cut ties with Johnny Manziel when the new NFL year officially begins next month.

- Jerry Rice goes undercover as a cab driver for Lyft. In the city where he played for 15 years and won three Super Bowls, you would think that more people might see through the disguise.

- Another year, another entertaining NFL edition of Bad Lip Reading

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