Relax Carolina Panthers enthusiasts, nobody is going to hold you to the standard the English fans set in the just concluded World Cup. While their singing ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ (from Oasis) at the end of a 2-1 overtime loss to Croatia in the semis wasn’t meant to foster fear, the crystal clear ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee’ at beginning of the Three Lions third place game against Belgium’s Red Devils raised the hair on my neck. Heck Charlotte, could we rustle up even 20,000 to salute our NATIONS sense of pride like that right now?
English fans showing the love for their team had to be inspirational to their side, but relative to Panther fans possibly picking up their game intensity-wise, the down home fact is that nobody has a great FEAR about coming to Charlotte. We have people getting painted up, Sir Purr is the best mascot in the NFL (wow!) and we can sing ‘Sweet Caroline’ with all the right ba-ba-ba! setups, but the fact that Cheeseheads or Giants or Steelers fans will always outnumber the crew in blue at end of a game (especially losses), what can be done about that?
We don’t need to compare ourselves with the NFL Lions, those always flawed denizens of the lower regions in any way- four championships since formally joining the league in 1930 but zippo since 1957, and only the Chicago-St. Louis-Phoenix Cardinals (1947) have a longer streak of professional league futility. That Kurt Warner of Cards threw a 102 yard pick-six– the last play of the half and seemingly ready to score from goal line against the Steelers– is the closest they’ve been since. Seventy years without truly being #1 is never a well-rewarded statistic, the end of a 108-year drought by Chicago’s Lovable Losers (Cubs) notwithstanding.
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Now, Seattle, hey, the Carolina Panthers played them tough when Panthers ‘D’ and Seattle were both at the top of league. They have a noise monitor that registers >130 decibels when they are in full throat, and acoustically we don’t have anything like that. Yes, we have adequate bad blood with Atlanta, especially over Matt Ryan‘s ‘Get the (bleep) off my field!’ and fact they put the only blemish on the record of our 15-1 Super Bowl 50 team. New Orleans? They beat us three times last year, but Brees has got to be gone soon. Tampa Bay? Spare me– rivalry, pssshhh. Buffalo? We trade with them regularly.
Knowing the English were last football champions at the 1966 version of FIFA competition, and took their lads losses in the spirit of great achievement that making it to the semifinals was is a nod to history. Charlotte, well, lots of people here were trying to sell their PSLs during that 1-15 (2001) season, and a lot more tried in 2010, when a 2-14 record got the Panthers the #1 pick in draft, which was Cam Newton. If you’re worried about cashing out your PSL without losing too much of that initial investment, that’s a fear of losing that can’t stand the relative heat, of which there is plenty of the real thing in Charlotte.
Although the Carolina Panthers have still never had back-to-back winning seasons entering their 23rd year, 52 years is a LONG time to wait for anything. If you’re going to hang up banners and have people sing songs about your exploits, a team must first actually be declared the best at some point, and secondly, there has to be a real level of uncertainty about winning on our turf. Watching Cam and new offense hang up 35 pts. a game would bring respect, knowing your guys won’t get twenty against The Blue, THAT counts on the fear front.
Wearing Panther Paint, appreciating the Panther Top Cats dance routines and singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ isn’t wrong, but if someone could come up with a little bit of nasty to take the edge off visitors enjoying our weather so much in December or being seriously uncomfortable in September, that might be a start. Find a song with two cool stanzas that could be shown on the Big Board and sow a little fear about the locals being ready to spill (relative) blood, nowwww you’d kinda talking. I’m thinking about it, Panther fans should too.