The Carolina Panthers have one more game left in a season that started full of promise and ended in disaster as quickly as it began. Fans began looking at draft seeding before the first half of the season was over and coaching speculations were running rampant about the same time. Now, the agony can finally be laid to rest and the healing can begin.
Next week the Panthers will face off against the Atlanta Falcons who will undoubtedly pack in their starters sometime in the first half. The final trip to Atlanta will be the final game for John Fox as the teams HC and many of the soon to be free agents as well as a few surprises that each year end fire sale brings to light.
The draft is still four months away, free agency 3 months away, and while the Panther fans count down to a new HC, the league counts down to a February 3rd deadline when the current CBA contract runs out and the countdown to the demise of the 2011 season begins.
With all the questions surrounding the Panthers, there is no greater concern with the NFL than the CBA. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is confident that a deal will be in place before the Super Bowl, NFLPA President DeMaurice Smith says it’s impossible without major changes in the way the NFL does business. He has mandated that all licensed NFL player agents attend a meeting in the next two weeks where he will tell them to advise their clients to prepare for a lockout.
For now, that’s irrelevant. There is still one more game to be played regardless of how meaningless it is. It is still football and it’s still Panther football.