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Veterans help Panthers put SB50 loss in perspective

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There is nothing like a day with wounded veterans to snap a football team out of the malaise of losing a Super Bowl.

On Tuesday, the Carolina Panthers recognized 28 wounded veterans, and their families, at Bank of America stadium.

Coach Ron Rivera said hearing what the wounded warriors had to say during their tour of the facility, and their smiles when being introduced like NFL players and during a mini-concert from country music star Darius Rucker took some of the hurt away from the 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.

"It puts everything in perspective," Rivera said, via ESPN.com's David Newton. "It really does. It kind of helps us understand there are bigger things in life."

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Tight end Greg Olsen echoed those sentiments.

"In the football world, we throw around words like 'sacrifice,' 'hard work' and 'hero,'" Olsen said. "Being around these people makes you understand what those words truly mean."

The veterans beamed at the opportunity to be around the NFC Champions.

"It's funny," said Master Sgt. Dexter Durrante, who lost his vision in 2007 during a training exercise explosion. "When I went to rehab, I was really tender then. I was, 'Give me my eyes or give me death.' Boy, was I wrong.

"To have a great day like today, it makes you feel appreciated. It uplifts you. It makes you feel what you did for the military wasn't in vain."

Added specialist Anthony Pruitt, a native of South Carolina who served in Afghanistan:

"They don't have words for this," he said. "It's mind-boggling. I'm trying to be in the moment, trying not to think about the past, why we are here. It means a lot.

"Football, this is one of the things that takes your mind off of things."

And sometimes players and coaches need to take their minds off football.

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