Max Henson Staff Writer
Charlotte, NC – For Denver Broncos head coach John Fox, his first trip back to Bank of America Stadium since leaving the Panthers following the 2010 season serves as just another homecoming.
“I’ve been doing this for 25 years and have had a lot of homecomings,” Fox said in a conference call. “It will be good to get back and see some old friends and revisit some relationships that I built over nine years there.
“This is an organization that gave me my first opportunity, so I look forward to seeing everybody.”
Fox began his head coaching career when the Panthers hired the former New York Giants defensive coordinator prior to the 2002 season.
He led Carolina to its only Super Bowl appearance in 2003 and finished his tenure with two NFC Championship game appearances along with two NFC South division titles.
“It’ll be good to see him,” said left tackle Jordan Gross, who was a rookie on the Super Bowl XXXVIII squad, “because you can’t erase what he did here.”
“I have a lot of respect for him,” Gross added, “and I definitely want to send him on a long flight home.”
Fox is now in his second season as the Broncos’ head coach, and the AFC West division leaders will face the Panthers on Sunday.
Players and coaches on both teams have been asked about Fox’s return, but those involved have downplayed the significance.
“They all count the same the last time I looked,” Fox said. “I’m not going to get to play a snap, so it’s going to be the Denver Broncos players versus the Carolina Panthers players and that part of it is no different than any game.”
Gross admitted it will be strange to see Fox lead a team on the opposing sideline, but said that won’t affect what takes place on the field.
“Head coaches get a lot of air time, but when you’re playing you don’t really think about who is in charge of the guy you’re going against,” Gross explained. “It’s definitely a big story, but I think it’ll be a lot bigger to people who aren’t playing in the game.”
NEWTON’S BIGGEST FAN: There are a lot of people who’d consider themselves Cam Newton‘s biggest fan.
You can add Broncos linebacker Von Miller to the list, and he makes a compelling case.
“I am Cam’s biggest fan,” Miller said in a conference call. “If I had sons that play quarterback, I would tell them to watch Cam Newton.”
Newton and Miller were the top two picks in the 2011 NFL Draft. They got to know each other during pre-draft activities and rookie events prior to the start of their first season.
At season’s end, they were honored as NFL offensive and defensive rookies of the year.
“Him being No. 1 and me being No. 2, we were around each other a lot,” Miller said. “Just being around him made me more of a fan, just to see how he handles all of the stardom and all the success that he has, to see him handle himself so well.
“People try to say whatever they want to say about him, but my opinion of Cam Newton – I enjoy being around him.”