49ers, Controversy, Football, NFL, Panthers

Free Agent Frenzy

For two days straight, my phone has been blowin up.

A buzz here. A buzz there. A notification here. A notification there. A retweet here. A retweet there. Everywhere a tweet, tweet. It feels like my phone buzzes every other minute. Welcome to the frenzy that is NFL Free Agency.

Donte Whitner. His release HURT!! For real. DeMarcus Ware. Darrelle Revis. Antoine Bethea. Jared Allen. Julius Peppers. LaMarr Woodley. Aqib Talib. T.J. Ward. Karlos Dansby. This would make a nice Pro Bowl roster.

And then, the hammer dropped and everyone in North Carolina and South Carolina heard the news that they did not want to hear, the Carolina Panthers would start training camp in July without all-time leading receiver and arguably the franchise’s most famous cat, Steve Smith. The rumblings began at the NFL Combine when Panthers General Manager, Dave Gettleman, offered a noncommittal response when asked about Smith’s future with the team. Many were stunned by the response including Smith. In 2012, Smith signed a three year extension which many felt would guarantee that Smith would retire as a Panther. That was what Smith wanted and at the time it was what the Panthers wanted. Loyalty seemed to be at the root of the deal as everyone walked away from the table happy. Unfortunately, loyalty does not always rise up from its hole each year. And loyalty does not score touchdowns. And loyalty does not guarantee good seasons. And loyalty does not guarantee championships.

Buzz. 9:05am. Alert from SportsCenter. Panthers to cut WR Steve Smith Thursday, a league source told NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Once Schefter tweets it/says it, you can bank on it.

Wow. I was in Bank of America Stadium to witness Smitty’s last game as a Panther.

This part of the NFL just makes me go ugh. I have dissected this move from many angles. Smith is 34 years old. He is 5’9(not that his height has ever been an issue but short WR’s are becoming less common). He is coming off a knee injury. The Panthers would potentially have to pay him seven million in 2014. They need to get under the salary cap. Yada yada yada. Everyone will scream it is business and move on. To me, I do not believe this is JUST a business move. I think this was personal. Sure we do not know what kind of year Smith may have next year. He may have a horrible year. He may have a great year. He may have even decided to retire. That is just the nature of sports. You can make all the predictions you want but none of us know what will really happen during the year. Right? Or are you trying to tell me you picked Seattle to win the SuperBowl. Anywho, back to Smitty. Regardless of what is going to happen, the Panthers will be paying Smith three million dollars. It is part of the guaranteed money that he got for his extension. So, they essentially saved four million dollars which I hope they use to spend on another wide receiver because I am not sure that Tavarres King, Martin McNutt or R.J. Webb can step in and fill Smith’s void. Oh and did I mention that the four million saved does not really put a dent in the cap space needed.

Perhaps the most telling sign that this is a personal move is the fact that the Panthers never asked Smith to restructure his contract. Let that sink in. Business or personal? You be the judge.

The past two days have been a doozy. I am almost positive that there have never been so many big name players released at one time. For as much as I love the game, I absolutely hate this part of the “business” where feelings have to be separated from reality in order to save dollars. But I have learned to accept it. If the 9ers can trade football royalty in the form of Jerry Rice and Joe Montana then anything is possible. Here is to hoping today is not as hectic. I have work to do and I do not need any distractions!

Until next time…TOODELLS.

Follow me on Twitter @Kassienette

 

P.S. To Smitty….thank you for your dedication, loyalty and hardwork. As a Panthers fan, it has been a joy to watch you play the past 13 years for the blue and black. May GOD bless you abundantly in your next chapter.

 

Football, NFL, Panthers, Sports

#NoNewFans

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.

{Source: Google Images}
{Source: Google Images}

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?

Football, NFL, Panthers, Sports, Uncategorized

Almost Jerry. Alllllllmost…..

image

October 26, 1993. I still remember the breaking news from the sporting world that day. It was the day the Carolina Panthers were born and it was also the day I became a fan. In case you missed the memo, yes I am a 9ers and a Panthers fan regardless of what you say. You still can not question my fanhood!!! On this same day, I watched Jerry Richardson, owner of the Panthers, guarantee that the team would win a SuperBowl within their first 10 years of existence.

Fast forward to February 1, 2004, nine years after the Panthers first season(the Panthers started playing in 1995), SuperBowl XXXVIII(38). The Carolina Panthers vs. the New England Patriots. Could my Panthers really keep Jerry’s promise? After the way things had unfolded for my Panthers in the playoffs, anything was possible.

My Panthers easily dismissed the Dallas Cowboys in the first round to advance to a divisional playoff meeting with the St. Louis Rams. My Panthers were leading by 11 with three minutes to go when the improbable happened. The Rams tied the game!! In what will go down as one of the most exciting games I have ever watched, my Panthers managed to get the job done on the first play of the second overtime. QB Jake Delhomme hit WR Steve Smith in stride, the middle of the field for a 69 yard TD to send my Panthers to the NFC Championship. The clip of Delhomme celebrating that TD will never get old. Classic Jake :-}.

Next up was the opponent that stood between my Panthers and the SuperBowl, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles would play without their workhorse RB, Brian Westbrook and would later lose QB Donovan McNabb during the game due to an injury. My Panthers won 14-3 to advance to the big game.

Besides the fact that my team was playing in the game, one of the main reasons that this game stands out is because I was in Charlotte to watch the game. A friend was invited down by another friend and my friend invited me to come as well. Keep in mind that I lived a little over two hours from Charlotte and I had to be at work at 8:30 the next morning but of course that was not going to stop me from going to Charlotte for the anticipated celebration. We ate. We laughed. We cheered. We covered our eyes when Janet played peek-a-boo. And with about three minutes to go and the game tied, we began to prepare for the trip to downtown Charlotte to celebrate Jerry’s promise. We had full confidence in our team. Then former Patriot Adam Vinatieri happened. With four seconds left, he shattered the dreams of Jerry and millions of Panthers fans along the East Coast with a swift kick that sent the ball through the uprights and sent the New England Patriots home with the Lombardi Trophy.

As I drove home that night, well morning, I began to laugh because I could only imagine what time I would have been leaving Charlotte if we had won. I wondered what I would have told my supervisor when he would have caught me sleeping at my desk. I decided I would have told him the truth. He knew I was a die hard and he was a great sport when he lost our bet during the NFC Championship game(he was an Eagles fan). If we had won, I surely would not have been productive that day but it would have been well worth it!!!