I am still kicking myself for not making the drive down to Charlotte last night. I had to listen to my body though. To say I was tired would have been an understatement. It is at times like these that I need a chauffeur. Any takers??
Last night was a BIG night for my Carolina Panthers. No we did not lock up home field advantage for the playoffs. No we did not clinch the division. No we did not clinch a playoff spot. What we did do last night is FINISH. On Monday night. Against a Tom Brady led squad. We FINISHED. Something we have struggled to do the last three years. Last night was a statement game in the Queen City. A chance to show the world that the Panthers, at least for this season, are a force to be reckoned with. And to think, just seven weeks ago, A LOT of you were calling young Cameron Newton a fluke and wanted head coach Ron Rivera fired. Now you all are all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram bragging about how you have been a fan since day one. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Let me tell you this. A REAL FAN NEVER gives up on their team. Sure, a real fan can criticize to some extent. A real fan can wonder aloud why a certain play was called. A real fan can even turn the channel when things get a little too rough. You have to turn back though. Do not be THAT fan. However, REAL FANS do not give up on their team. Especially after a 1 and 3 start. Four games into the season I saw it happen. A REAL FAN is always an optimist even if the reality staring you in the face is inevitable. You have to believe in your team at all times. Through the good and the bad. REAL CAROLINA PANTHER FANS should have never given up on this team. Helloooooo. Do you know who is one the roster?? Cameron Newton. Steve Smith. Luke Keuchly. Thomas Davis. Mike Tolbert. Graham Gano. Brandon LaFell. DeAngelo Williams. Greg Olsen. Charles Johnson. Do I even need to continue?? With that kind of talent a turnaround was bound to happen at some point. Did I expect it to happen the way that it did? Nope but we have seen it happen before. Remember the 2011 New York Midgets, I mean Giants, who entered the playoffs with a 9-7 record and went on to win the Super Bowl. Yeah. Any Given Sunday. Or Monday. Or Thursday.
Last night I screamed, whooped and talked trash. You know, what I normally do during games. Then it happened. Someone tried it. They came after my FANHOOD. Big mistake. Most of you know how I am about my FANHOOD but for those of you who do not, I will provide you with the scoop. My peeps love to joke me all the time about my FANHOOD because I am a fan of two teams. They tell me I can not be a fan of two teams. It does not work that way. Ask me if I care though :-}? My life. My rules. My FANHOOD. However, for those followers who do not know how this came about, here it goes…
10.26.93. The day the NFL announced Charlotte would be receiving a team. I remember sitting in my living room watching the presser. I was so excited! I have been a die-hard and Faithful fan of the San Francisco 49ers since approximately 1984/85. I was raised in a household where you were a fan of your team no matter what. Exiting my relationship with my 49ers was out of the question so the only logical thing to do was to be a fan of both teams. And that is the stance I have taken since 1993. I have cheered for both teams. I have been mad when both teams have lost very close games. I was in Charlotte on 02.01.04 for SuperBowl 38. How could I not be? My Panthers were just 1-15 two years prior. I am still a tad upset about last year’s SuperBowl debacle especially since my 49ers may not make it back this year if they keep playing the way they have been playing. I shall remain optimistic though. As you can see, I experience a wide range of emotions every year.
Last night, I was proud to call myself a Carolina Panthers fan. Last night I was proud to be a North Carolinian. And last night I was proud to say I am a Carolina Panthers fan who has been there since day one. For us day one fans, last night was a big deal. We have not had much to cheer about for the last decade. Last night was for us. The fans who saw the Panthers play in Memorial Stadium on the campus of Clemson University during their first year. The fans who can remember singing the “Nothing can be finer than to be in Carolina for a Panthers football gaaaame!” during the first few years in Ericsson. The fans who have original Howl Towels. That win was for us! Those who stuck around during the tough times. Those that did not give up on the team. Those who are proud that in that particular moment when our team had a chance to make a statement, it did just that. I am sure some people will say we are being real extra right now but who cares! While we do not know what will be the ultimate outcome of this season, it feels good, for now, to be fans of one of the hottest teams in the league right now. It feels good to have more double yous than losses. It feels good to say I AM A CAROLINA PANTHERS FAN!
And to those of you who want to now call yourself a fan or you were not a fan before young Cameron Newton took over behind center, please do us a Michael Jackson favor and “Beat It!” We know who you are and we are not afraid to call you out. Consider that your warning. #NoNewFans.
Until next time….TOODELLS!!!
Oh. P.S. For all you Pats fans who are still crying about the flag/no flag, TUCK RULE ANYONE?