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Brother’s death adds ‘fuel to fire’ for Panthers’…

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Brother's death adds 'fuel to fire' for Panthers'...

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers defensive end Mario Addison had two Jeep Wranglers, an orange one and a red one, built for his younger brothers as incentives to succeed in life. To earn them, each had to get a job and hold it down for a few months to prove he was becoming responsible.

Addison recently gave the red one to the youngest of the two, 27-year-old Gjamal Antonio Rodriqcus.

Twelve days ago, in Addison’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, Rodriqcus was shot and killed in that Jeep. Addison missed Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans because he was grieving his brother’s death after laying him to rest in a shiny red casket.

He’s still grieving.

“Red was his favorite color,” Addison said Thursday as he sat in front of his locker.

A few minutes later, he stood and talked to a large group of reporters for the first time since he rejoined his teammates at Bank of America Stadium on Monday.

His words were raw.

“I’m fair,” Addison said when asked how he was holding up. “I would say I’m fair. I can’t say I feel good. I can’t say I’m happy. I can’t say I’m sad. Angry. I’m all of them at once. It can change every two minutes. I’m fair.”

Athletes often don’t have the luxury of grieving in private, especially during their seasons. There’s no better example of that than the former quarterback of the team the Panthers (5-3) will face on Sunday in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

On Dec. 22, 2003, the day after Packers quarterback Brett Favre lost his father to a heart attack in Mississippi, he threw for 399 yards and four touchdowns in a Monday Night Football game in Oakland. He didn’t have to play, but he did because he didn’t want to let his teammates down.

And he believed that perhaps the best way he could honor his father was to be the best he could possibly be that night.

Addison, 32, feels that way about playing on Sunday. Carolina’s sacks leader (6.5) has a celebration planned in which he will mimic his brother’s favorite pose if he sacks Aaron Rodgers.

“It’s going to be phenomenal,” Addison said, anticipating what might happen on the “frozen tundra” at Lambeau Field, where cold temperatures are in the forecast. “I might get stuck in the pose, it’s so cold out there.”

Mixed emotions

Addison left his family in Birmingham on Monday because he needed to get away from the memories of Rodriqcus, whom he refers to as “G” or “Geeski.” He wanted to get back to his football family in Charlotte.

“I was having a whole lot of mixed emotions while I was there,” Addison said. “I just wanted to get away and be back with these guys and actually use football to clear my mind. I think I’m ready to be back on the field.”


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