On Sunday John Fox will coach his final home game as the Carolina Panthers head coach. He will likely get booed by fans who can’t stomach the season that was. Fox entered the 2010 without a contract extension and while Jerry Richardson hasn’t publicly said he would relieve his franchise of the HC, he hasn’t given the smallest indication that he won’t. Truth is, when this season ends, Fox won’t get fired he will simply be left to walk away because he won’t have a contract.
But when he takes the field on Sunday, he deserves our ovation and regardless of the way the game plays out, he will deserve it again when he walks off the field.
Fox is the winningest coach in franchise history and his tenure dates back to the 2002 season. A year later and the team is playing in their only Super Bowl. He took the team to 2 conference championship games as well. While his record is only 72-69, he can still finish his Carolina career with a winning record if the team can win one of their remaining three.
Taking over a 1-15 George Seifert team, Fox finished his first year with a 7-9 record before ending his 2nd season with a three point loss to New England in the Super Bowl. He would get the team close but couldn’t get them to the big game again. In the teams three above 10 win seasons Fox took the Panthers into the playoffs but his off years saw the team have two 8-8 seasons and the rest below .500.
The Carolina Panthers found an identity under Fox that finally got the “expansion” tag removed from the lips of fans and NFL fans in general. He produced a team that was on the forefront of pre-season projections to both win their division and contend deep into the post-season. Through injuries, bad judgments, and coaching errors, they failed at times. But Fox always kept his head high and his dignity in tact.
He will leave as the Panthers longest tenured coach, the Panthers winningest coach, and the only coach to take the team to a Super Bowl. He will also leave the same way he came in, with his dignity and his class fully in tact. He may not be the best coach out there, and there is no doubt his time has run its course, but because of him, the NFL Carolina Panthers have a place in history.
Thanks John Fox! I won’t be at the game, but I will be giving you the ovation you deserve. I hope the fans who are at the game, do the same.