TOP OF THE HEAP
The 30-year-old tight end leads the 9--0 Panthers in catches (45), receiving yards (664) and TD receptions (five) while averaging a career-high 14.8 yards per catch. But don't tell his wife about the pileups.
DAN PATRICK:Do you care if the media or the rest of the country buys into the Panthers?
GREG OLSEN: We're not overly concerned with it. The NFL is so black-and-white. You win, you lose. Your record indicates where you stand. It's not the [College Football Playoffs]. We don't need style points. We don't need votes. We have our destiny in our hands.
DP:Have you been surprised by any of the wins?
GO: I don't think we're surprised by any win. We prepare and expect to win. If you start doubting yourself, it can make for a pretty daunting task.
DP:How would you describe Cam Newton's personality in one word?
GO:Lively. Well, maybe vibrant would be better. He brings a lot of life to a lot of situations. It comes through pretty clearly on game day. He's full of energy. Sometimes people use that as a negative against him, which I find somewhat amusing. The guy loves to play the game. He wants to win, and he'll do anything that his team needs to win. He'll sacrifice his body, run, take shots or extend plays. That's what you're looking for in a quarterback.
DP:He also seems a little goofy.
GO: He's a kid trapped in a man's body. That's what works for him. That's what works for our team, his larger-than-life personality. People aren't used to seeing that sort of personality or style of play out of the quarterback position. But that's what makes him fun. We're not going to ask him to change. And he shouldn't have to change to fit the mold of what everyone expects him to be.
DP:Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib got fined for poking Colts tight end Dwayne Allen in the eye in Week 9. Does that kind of thing happen often?
GO: I saw that happen live. I was like, Oh, man, he couldn't have meant to do that. But the more you watch it, it's harder to rationalize that he didn't do it [on purpose]. If he didn't mean to do that, it was bad, bad luck.
DP:Does your wife [Kara] ask about what happens in the pile?
GO: I'll tell you [what happens]. I won't tell her. That would just get her nervous, more than she already is. I've had my ankle twisted after tackles. I've had guys try to push me over the back of a pile to get me caught up and flipped backwards. It's a tough world out there.
DP:Does anyone go for the man region?
GO: I've heard stories about that happening. Fortunately that hasn't happened to me. That would be the end. I think my retaliation to that would be pretty bad. I'd probably be penalized or fined.
Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson admitted he recently attended a Taylor Swift concert. "I'm sure there was some unfortunate singing going on," Johnson said. "Taylor plays nonstop in our car on the way to [my daughter Genevieve's] school. I do know the lyrics, unfortunately, by heart." ...Former Raiders and USC quarterback Todd Marinovich told me it was common for athletes to get paid when he was in college. "There were thousands of dollars being handed around," Marinovich said. "But none of it was really in my direction." ... Bills QB Tyrod Taylor had no problem with the media's paying so much attention to coach Rex Ryan before Buffalo's 22--17 win over the Jets. "He never made it about him," Taylor said. "He's a fun guy to be around. He relates to every player."
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