FanSided 250: Carolina Panthers snubbed after offseason of division

(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Cam Newton
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Cam Newton /

Carolina Panthers snubbed in FanSided’s annual 250 fandom rankings.

An offseason period of significant disruption fractured the Carolina Panthers. Few would argue that big changes were needed to get the team back on the right track. But so many at once was a bold strategy that hasn’t exactly paid off in terms of their 2020 record.

There has been more good than bad from the Carolina Panthers in 2020. Their 4-8 record would be far better had they managed to pick up some notable wins against high-profile opposition in close contests. But they are at least mixing it with some legitimate Super Bowl contenders at this stage of their substantial rebuild.

It doesn’t take long to look around social media to see the division within Carolina’s fanbase after a period of unprecedented personal moves. This also saw the team’s supporters snubbed by FanSided 250, a yearly look at the most loyal fandoms in areas such as sports, entertainment, celebrities, and gaming.

This is hardly surprising.

And one move of all has caused the most division.

Carolina Panthers fans were furious with Cam Newton handling.

Cam Newton was idolized by Panthers fans from the moment he was taken No. 1 overall in 2011. The quarterback revolutionized how the position was played and took Carolina from obscurity into the national spotlight.

Not only was Newton the face of the Panthers, but he was also the most recognizable talent in the NFL at one point during an incredible 2015 season that eventually ended with a deserved MVP award.

This didn’t come with an elusive first Super Bowl for the franchise. But they’ve never been closer.

Newton suffered his fair share of problems with injury in recent seasons, which played a leading role behind his departure. The new regime decided that Teddy Bridgewater was the man to lead them forward and gave him a three-year, $63 million deal with a $15 million signing bonus and $33 million guaranteed at a time when the former Auburn sensation was close to getting himself medically cleared to play.

They were well within their right to go in a different direction.

But the way they handled Newton’s departure was an embarrassment.

Newton was shipped out with barely so much as a thank you at a time when starting opportunities elsewhere were at a premium. This infuriated the fans and inadvertently made things more difficult for Bridgewater in the process.

Some have switched allegiances to the New England Patriots, where Newton signed a one-year deal with just $550,000 guaranteed.

Others bought New England jerseys with Newton’s name on the back, which proves that one player might just be bigger than an organization to some.

Not exactly a primary contender for a leading fandom at this juncture.

Time is a great healer. Hopefully, things will get better sooner rather than later for the Panthers and the likes of Newton and Greg Olsen can return and get the recognition they deserved at their original departure. But, at least for now, this is a fanbase divided with some still pining for a quarterback that is playing well elsewhere.