If you’ve been a fan of the Panthers since inception, you know that their 7-0 mark is unprecedented. It’s clear that they are not the Seahawks or the 49ers (who are both markedly notorious for their bandwagon fans) because Panthers fans are fiercely loyal. From the low of the 1-15 year to the euphoria of making the Super Bowl in 2003, true Panthers fans have never wavered in their love for the team.
This year was supposed to be “the” year…the year the Panthers made a statement to the league. The year everyone knew they had arrived. Then Kelvin Benjamin went down in training camp with an ACL injury. The doubters pounced quickly, like buzzards picking a freshly fallen body in the desert heat. The team was written off as pretenders by most in sports media. “Experts” picked them to finish in the cellar of their own division, a playoff afterthought. Well, something funny happened on the way to mediocrity as the Panthers have reeled off double-digit wins dating back to the regular season last year. Yet the team still has doubters, leading some fans to feel disrespected. The team, for the most part, shrugs off the media’s opinions and assumptions. People are quick to point out the teams’ weak stats, especially the amount of dropped passes by WR’s and QB Cam Newton’s low-end completion percentage. But the team is only truly concerned with one stat in particular. Those W’s that keep piling up in the win column. They just don’t care what people outside of the locker room and the practice field are saying. True to the team motto, they keep pounding, they don’t give up. They made their statement with the thrilling last-minute victory in Seattle. They didn’t give up in the driving rain against the Colts. Coaches say the mood in the locker room is the same as it was last season, while the team was mired in a losing streak that saw them lose for over a month before righting the ship and claiming the division (again).
This is a team forged in the fire of competition. You can punch them in the mouth and they say more “once more, with feeling”. They fight till the bitter end, not to spite those who hate, but because they have the desire to do so. They aren’t concerned with stats or personal achievements, this is the truest definition of a team, that I personally haven’t seen in sports since the mid to late 1990’s Chicago Bulls dynasty. They play for each other, they play for the fans, they play to win. They simply keep pounding.
By Jay Holman