John Fox was applauded as he took the field on Sunday to coach his final home game as the Carolina Panthers head man. At the end of the game, he exited with his pride, his dignity, and a great big smile. The Carolina Panthers played a knock down fight with the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday that gave Fox a winning record for his 9 season tenure as the Panthers head coach. Regardless of what the last two weeks bring.
The Panthers held off late attempts and Jay Feely‘s onside kick attempts to keep their 19-12 victory. While the team played solid defense, a John Fox trademark, the game was supported on the legs of Jonathan Stewart who rushed for 137 yards. But the real winner here was Fox.
Fox teared up at his post game press conference and ellicited a few laughs when he said he was “tougher than this“. The team gave him the game ball. The crowd gave him their respect.
Fox’s contract is up on February 1st and it’s all but publicly stated that he will be looking for work on the 2nd. While most coaches tend to allow their teams to get away from them when their jobs are on the line or they are simply a “lame duck” in the seat, the Panthers team has not quite on their leader. They played until the final gun sounded and then rejoiced for only the second time this season.
If the win wasn’t enough, the fans got a reward for showing Fox their appreciation when the Cincinnati Bengals pulled out only their 3rd win of the season. Both the Bengals and the Broncos are behind the Panthers by one game for the coveted first pick in the 2011 NFL draft to be held in April. I suppose you could say there was a little bit of “Luck” yesterday.
Statistically the Panthers had one of their better outings as they closed up shop at Bank Of America Stadium for the remainder of the year. Staff will be out in the chilly North Carolina air sweeping up the remains from the game and packing away the carts to put the final caps on the home season. But the memory of John Fox and his legacy will remain in tact. All because 53 men decided not to quit.
Congratulations John, you deserved it!