Carolina Panthers legend issues rallying cry amid ongoing negativity

The running back nailed his assessment of Carolina's ongoing disrespect.
Jonathan Stewart
Jonathan Stewart / Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers are not seen in a good light around the league right now. That's what happens after a two-win season with an owner who constantly seems to embarrass himself. It'll be a long road back for the franchise, but the early signs are positive under general manager Dan Morgan and head coach Dave Canales.

Carolina's latest disrespect came during the NFL's long-awaited release of the 2024 schedule. They were the only team not to receive a primetime game under the lights next season. The Panthers have endured this dubious distinction for the third time in history. It's also another sign of how those in league circles view their fortunes during the upcoming campaign.

Canales is not short of motivational tools as he looks to bring the Panthers back to respectability. Being seen as the NFL's laughingstock isn't nice, but Carolina can only alter these perceptions by improving results, being competitive, and putting out a more productive football product under another new regime.

Jonathan Stewart urges Carolina Panthers to fight back in 2024

The Panthers also got a rallying cry of sorts from a team great. Jonathan Stewart - who is widely regarded as one of the best running backs in franchise history - urged Canales and his players to harness this ongoing negativity into a positive based on comments via Fan Nation.

“You guys should be upset. Panthers fans should be like, you know what? That’s jacked up, it’s disrespectful. But hey, the NFL realized the Carolina Panthers were 2-15 last year. So when it comes to this year, I absolutely am using that energy as a player and channeling it through my play on the field. Now, hopefully next year, you’ve done something this year to put yourself back on the map. That’s exactly what happened. 2012, after a 2011 of no primetime games, in 2012 they said you know what? They showed us a little something, so let’s give them a primetime game. So hopefully, Bryce Young and (Dave) Canales gives the fans and gives the NFL something to look forward to for next year. But there is still an opportunity this year to flex your way to a primetime game. If you go out there and basically squeeze their pockets and make them put you on the big screen, then you’re set on the right path."

Stewart is right. Nothing is given in the NFL. Everything has to be earned, which is a challenge the Panthers must be ready for when competitive action resumes once again.

If the Panthers can do this, they might be a surprise most don't see coming. Stewart experienced the highest of highs and the lowest lows during his prolific stint with the franchise, so he's well-placed to speak about the current atmosphere within the building and what they can do to get things trending in a positive direction.

This is all about pride - both personal and collective. Nobody likes to be the subject of ridicule. But if this provides some extra urgency within the organization in the weeks and months ahead, it might end up being a positive.

Nobody is expecting the Panthers to be among the postseason challenges during their first season with Canales leading the charge. Showing the correct fight during every game and displaying the cohesion that was sorely lacking last time around will be all fans can hope for.

After that, the results should take care of themselves.