Carolina Panthers Advent Calendar: Day 12 (What Could Have Been)

As a Panthers fan it is easy now to sit and mock teams like the Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (before this year), and the St Louis  Rams who just cannot find their franchise Quarterback. We sit comfortably knowing that we have an excellent one, and one who can make himself an NFL legend with this team. That has not always been the case for us however, we had our ups and downs like everyone else. So for Day 12 of the advent calendar I'll discuss.. 


The Man Who Could Have Been A Legend

The hardest spot to fill on your roster is the quarterback. Teams spend years, lots and lots of cash, and countless draft picks trying to find the perfect fit. As a brand new organization in 1995, the Carolina Panthers appeared to have theirs with their very first pick. Kerry Collins was big, strong, and had a fantastic arm. He quickly established himself as the starter and took the Panthers to the NFC Championship game in only their second season in existence.  
Unfortunately he established a rock-and-roll playboy lifestyle just as quickly.

The collegiate All-American was leading lavish nights out and throwing even wilder parties. The Panthers offered him help, but his denial was arguably worse than his alcohol issues, and thus he never gave himself a true chance in Charlotte. It wasn't just alcohol either, there were inclinations of racism. The comments to Muhsin Muhammad were said to be in jest, but he spent enough time with his wide receiver to have some understanding of how he would react.  


After starting the 1998 season 0-4, Collins finally realized he had a problem. He approached Coach Capers and told him that his heart was not in it, and that he didn't think he could play right now. This was the final straw for a franchise who hoped he was the man to lead them for years to come. He was placed on waivers, ended up in rehab, but he had set the Panthers back years. Capers lost trust in the position in future drafts. 


The NFC Championship team was built on veterans who were trending downward in their career so a drop off was to be expected, but had Collins stayed sober, his undoubted talent would have kept us from the troughs we were about to endure. Capers may have kept his job in 1998 and saved us from the Seifert rein.  


If Collins had been the guy everyone in Charlotte hoped he would be, if he had turned the Panthers into the 'dynasty' he was boasted about, where would we be now? Would he have spent his entire career in North Carolina? Could he even have been the Obi-Wan Kenobi to Cam Newton's Luke Skywalker? These are all things we'll never know. I'm glad Collins managed to get himself sorted and led a decent career, 13th in NFL Career Passing Yards but I'm still bitter at the way he screwed up the franchise.