San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has welcomed the support of WWE legend Ric Flair, and said that his former ties with the Carolina Panthers "is not a crime", reports ESPN.com.
As the 49ers prepare to take on the Panthers in their NFC divisional matchup on Sunday, the pro wrestler has been talked up as a supporter of the San Francisco franchise, following his stirring speech prior to the team's wild-card win over the Green Bay Packers last weekend.
Flair flew to Appleton, Wisconsin, to address 49ers fans on Saturday night, which appeared to rub Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith up the wrong way.
"As a guy who actually has a Ric Flair robe I'm real disappointed in seeing that," Smith was quoted by The Charlotte Observer on Monday. "Real disappointed.
"I'm not sure if he'll get the invite here. That Golden Gate Bridge has been burned."
However, Harbaugh has moved to defend Flair, adding that he is happy to have his support heading into a crunch game against the Panthers this weekend.
"What's the matter with having two favorite teams? Is that a crime?" the 50-year-old questioned. "My opinion would be that it doesn't make you a bad person to have two favorite football teams.
"I think Ric Flair's a fantastic guy. I had a chance to spend quite a bit of time with him, half-hour, hour or so on Saturday. And then, of course, he spoke to our team.
"He spoke very highly of Carolina and his friendships with the Carolina Panthers."
Defensive tackle Justin Smith suggested early last week that Flair would be a great pre-game speaker, so 49ers vice president of football operations and sports medicine, Jeff Ferguson, reached out to the pro wrestler. Now they have a fan for life.