I’m not going to pretend that right now is an easy time – for the world, for Panthers fans, for anyone. The world is a crazy place, crazier than we even thought imaginable as recently as a month ago. All of these events compounded are affecting me just like I’m sure they’re affecting all of you – it’s tough to feel motivated. It’s tough to be excited about the upcoming season. It’s tough to feel inspired. Hell, it’s taken me close to a week just to be able to write this.
But just as I’m relying on my immediate family to help push through these trying times, now, even more than ever, is when we need to rely on the strength of our community to help overcome all of the challenges we all are facing. Just because we can’t be together in real life during this offseason – you may have noticed that we’ve canceled all of our events for the foreseeable future and we’re not sure when they’re going to come back – doesn’t change the fact that we are still a family.
A family that will always be bonded over our Panthers fandom.
We can all do our part to help out during this crisis and, from what I’ve seen, many of you have. Whether it’s buying gift cards from local businesses – we’ve been able to raise over $7,000 (!) for our restaurant partners around the world – getting take-out from local spots, or donating directly to the COVID-19 relief fund, just as I would expect, you all have risen to the occasion beautifully.
And you’ve done it together – by depending on and wanting to help one another.
On that same token, it’s certainly not an easy time to be a Panthers fan. Between losing our most iconic players, infighting between our fans, facing a total rebuild, some PSL owners angry about losing their seats, whatever it may be, this is the bottom of the bell curve and we’re most definitely feeling it. All of us.
But the way to get through this low point with the team is the same way we’re getting though this pandemic – together. As a community, as a family.
Let me tell you some of the things that we were able to accomplish last season and why I’m proud to be a member of this community.
We’ve continued to put together top-notch away game experiences to ALL of the Panthers’ away games, including a 750+ person trip of a lifetime to London and a snowy game on the Frozen Tundra in Green Bay. Tailgate With A Purpose continued to rock. We secured some strategic partners to help add some cool new features, including having the West Charlotte Marching Lions lead us from the tailgate to the stadium every game, all while being able to raise $25K for the Roaring Riot Foundation.
Let me say that again – with your help, we raised TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS just by tailgating before each home game.
The Roaring Riot Foundation will use those funds to create more experiences in the future for our fellow fans just like it did this past season by taking Chancellor Lee and Saundra Adams to London and the West Charlotte students to a home game. Our membership base has surpassed 8,000 people worldwide – we now have members in all 50 states and we’re in 18 countries. In 2019, we launched a new international chapter in Germany and they have surpassed 100 members!
Once more, because it feels insane to just type it….we have over 100 Roaring Riot members in Germany. Unreal!
Now, let me tell you where we are going – we are closer now than ever to making a Roaring Riot section in the stadium a reality. Before, that always seemed like a far-fetched dream and now, I’ve been in high-level meetings with some Panthers Brass about how to make that a reality. They’re legitimately interested in trying to find a solution to put their biggest fans together to produce an in-stadium experience unlike any in the NFL.
We continue to grow and develop one of the few non-paywalled, credentialed media sites covering the Panthers in The Riot Report. We’re continuing to grow The Riot Network, our podcast network which puts out the best variety of content for all listeners. Last season, we launched The Riot Record and we’re continuing to put development behind it to make it the coolest place to show off how much of a Panthers fan you are as well as have all of the stats and memories that you’ve experienced in-person all in one central location.
We have stayed committed and no matter what, we will continue to stay focused and committed on doing everything we can to provide our members the best possible fan experiences out there. That is our word.
I’m not going to act like this season isn’t going to be hard – this offseason has already been the hardest that we’ve ever had to go through – there’s no reason to believe the season will be much different. Many of you are angry, and you’re allowed to be. Others feel disconnected, and that’s OK, too. We won’t always agree with every decision, but I’ll always love our team – because they’re just that. Our team.
Others are going to be feeling the economical impacts from the virus and may not be able to continue as a member. Please know that we are actively working on solutions that will help those being affected so greatly – we will do absolutely everything we can to keep you as a member of this community.
But no matter what the 2020 season looks like – whether we’re forced to do our cheering at watch parties instead of inside of the stadium because the league won’t allow fans in, whether the Panthers lose more games than they’ve lost since Pickles was under center, whether we have to withstand bandwagon fans talking about how much they love the Bucs now that the Panthers aren’t winning and don’t have the familiar faces on the roster, we’re going to do it. No matter what.
Because we are a community. Because we keep pounding. Because at the end of it all, we’re still Panthers fans.
Because we’re the Roaring Riot.