New Big Cat,
Welcome to Charlotte.
Welcome to the Carolina Panthers family, you’re about to be the head of the household – with your recent purchase, you’ve bought not only a business, but a piece of our windshields, our homes, our wardrobes, and our daily lives.
While your new team doesn’t have the same storied history of your old club, we’re not without – we’ve experienced all but the highest highs and suffered heartrending lows, both on and off the field. We made the treks to Clemson in the early years and to the frozen tundra, without blankets, for the 1996 NFC Championship game. Some of us endured the silence of the light rail after the 2008 Arizona playoff game and others delighted in exorcising that demon in grand fashion at Carson Palmer’s expense in the 2015 NFC Championship. We sat through a torrential downpour to watch our MVP quarterback rally the team against Drew Brees and the Saints in the final thirty seconds to lead the team to the playoffs for his first time in 2013.
And we all remember where we were when X-Clown happened.
Speaking of that play, we here in Panther land never use the phrase, “for his size” when discussing Steve Smith. He was incredible, period. He deserves to be in Canton one day and in a Panthers ring of honor even sooner. Now, aside from 89, let’s talk some other numbers.
You’re taking the helm of the only five-time NFC South champions.
In the last five seasons, your team is one of only two NFC teams to win 50 games.
In the last 15 years, only three teams have made it to more Super Bowls.
We take tremendous pride in the successes of the team on the field, but also in the men who produce those results; the work in the community of players such as Thomas Davis, Cam Newton and Greg Olsen, along with their families and charitable organizations have become part of the fabric of Charlotte and Panthers Nation. While no one embodied the Panthers model of man and player better than the late Sam Mills, this current group is working admirably to close the gap – some athletes shun the role model mantle, but we have been blessed with many who embraced the challenge.
Yes, the team has performed well, but we still look to you to be our new leader. Your predecessor faded from view over the last several years, too often leaving the head coach to speak for the team, on matters outside the scope of a coach, and while Coach Rivera handled many of those situations admirably, he is not the Big Cat.
We’re excited to see this next chapter, forgive some of us if we’re slow to adapt, but this is our first time with a new captain at the helm. Change is constant in the NFL and we all understand you will mold the Panthers into your team – whatever the future of PSLs, craft beer sales, stadiums and uniform combinations, please know you represent all of us with each decision you make. The adults in our ranks may understand the NFL is a business, but the times spent with our families and friends, living and dying with the Panthers every gameday, those are personal bonds and memories forged. When we strut or sulk into work on Mondays, it’s because of your men on that field.
Respect the Panthers. Respect the men and women who represent our team and respect those of us out here watching from either the stands or our living rooms, and you’ll have our respect too – even when we’re expressing otherwise on local radio.
Welcome aboard, sir, hope we all enjoy your stay.
Now let’s go have some fun.
Oh, and one final thing – Keep Pounding.