A couple of days ago, one of my good friends mentioned that his favorite NFL player had to be the great Dan Marino. It got me thinking: Who was my favorite Carolina Panther? I’m talking past and present, any player that ever had a stint with the Panthers. I began thinking about the different players I have seen in the Panthers’ short history. Players such as Steve Smith, DeAngelo Williams, DeShaun Foster, Stephen Davis, and Jake Delhomme all crossed my mind as possible favorites.
But, there was one other player who I believed to be the best Panther of all time. He was a fan favorite, and always played his best. He was a class act, and was a shining star even in our worst years. There were times when he let us down, but I never held it against him, because we are not perfect. When he had a bad game, he took responsibility and held his head up high. Join me after the break as I recount my favorite player in our short history.
My favorite Panther is none other than the amazing John Kasay. Kasay, to me, epitomizes what a Panther is. He was always a fan favorite, not to mention that he is the leading scorer in Panther history. He was one of the best kickers to ever play the game. He is currently listed #8 on the NFL’s all time scoring list. He is listed at 1,823 points and the closest active player behind him is Adam Vinatieri, and he is about 200 points back.
Some might remember the Super Bowl XXXVIII where Kasay converted a 50 yard field goal as well as two extra points. He has been credited with winning the game for the Patriots when he kicked the final kickoff out of bounds, putting the Patriots in position to kick the game-winning field goal. He has had some bad games, but who doesn’t; however, I remember all the good games that Kasay won for the Panthers.
I remember the game against Tampa Bay on December 6, 2009 in which Kasay became only the 7th player to ever kick 400 field goals. That field goal solidified his status as an elite kicker, and in my opinion solidifies his induction into the Panthers Ring of Honor. Kasay holds the record in which he hit four 46+ yard field goals in one game, and his currently tied for second for all-time field goals made beyond 50+ yards.
As one can see, Kasay has the stats to be considered one of the best ever; yet, that is not the reason he is my favorite. Kasay is a humble person, and while kickers never really hold much fame, he was a famous kicker. He never let the fame get to his head, and he always remembered why he was playing the game. He loved to play football, and he loved the fans that watched him. Kasay was a class act, and proved that time and time again. There are stories in which Kasay would sign an autograph on the sidelines during a game. That proves that he is one of the most humble men on the field.
According to the Charlotte Observer, when Kasay was released by the Panthers, he released a letter. The letter read:
“I wanted to personally write this letter to every Carolina Panther fan. Words cannot express how truly thankful my family and I are for the most wonderful 16 years of our lives. We came to the Panthers as a young family with a 3-month-old baby. We leave with 4 children, 2 of whom are in high school. In between, you have loved and cheered and blessed us way more than we ever deserved.”
As you can tell, he was proud to be a Panther. Even when the team was a horrid 1-15 or 2-14, Kasay stood by the Cats and gave it his all. He was there in the Super Bowl, and had one mistake that many believe would tarnish his legacy. There are many fans, though, that look past the Super Bowl performance, and remember all the times Kasay kicked a game winning field goal. Even last year as the Cats went 2-14, Kasay was the main reason we would have points on the board. He played for this team for its entire history, and that shows something about his loyalty.
As I said before, Kasay personified what it means to be a Panther. He was fan-friendly and played his heart out every time he was on the field. His leg may have weakened in the past few years, but that didn’t stop him from booting 50+ yard field goals. I personally love John Kasay, and Panther Nation must love him as well, because his jersey is still for sell on Shop.Panthers.com