Football can be more than a kids game, and it's the fans who make it so much more. The fellowship, the fraternity, the fun, brings people together, and, even cooler, can keep them together. I know this first hand. That Freak'n Puerto Rican and I were college roommates over a decade ago, and like so many good friends, brothers even, life took us differing directions. Joe headed south to Charleston, and I hung around the home stomping ground, Greenville, NC.
Our friendship, like any, took a toll from the distance. We never talked enough, and rarely visited because of the normal grind life, wife, kids, and work thing that consumes most of us. We have a friendship, however, that time and distance never diminishes, but it can hamper. When we do catch up in person or on the phone, it's like we've never missed a beat. I know you have those types of friends too. They're the rare ones where the depth of your friendship doesn't depend on the frequency of your interaction, but is pure, unselfish, and authentic.
Carolina Panther football, however, became a means for Joe and I to keep that kindred bond strong and to avoid the excuse of being busy to catch up with each other regularly. This website, the podcast, all of it started with two guys who used to call each other to hash out Panther game at the half and after the finish. C3 had some humble but genuine roots, beginning with the Halftime Hangout, where we simply blasted that friendly call through YouTube.
If you're reading this, I know football does the same for you. It brings friends together and births new football families where all members rock the Black and Blue. Last season, that Freak'n Puerto Rican and I were hanging with his buddy Shane Barbee at the Panthers home opener. Shane raved about how they had a blast at the season opener in Tampa because on an organized fan trip by RoaringRiot.com. It wasn't his first trip, but he couldn't stop talking about how much fun it was invading a rival stadium with hundreds of Panther fans after a weekend of organized partying without any of the stress of arranging accommodations, transportation, or even finding tickets among friends in enemy territory. So like any Greenville native who loves a great party, I followed Roaring Riot on Twitter and checked out their website. I kind of lurked in the shadows, waiting to see how I was going to get into this party. I thought 2015 was going to be the year, but like any family guy with kids, a mortgage, did I mention childcare, and a planned holiday to Disney, I couldn't be entirely sure when it was going to go down.
Well as fate had it, a trip would be cemented sooner than later when Zack Littrell (Roaring Riot Found) gave me a call, reinforcing the obvious connections in our missions. The rest is history, and now me an my homeboys, that Freak'n Puerto Rican and Mel Mayock, are anxiously awaiting Week 1, where we're planning to have riot organized by RoaringRiot.com in Jacksonville, Florida at the Panthers season opener against the Jags with over 500 fellow Panther fans.
If I wasn't excited enough by this bound to be Carolina stylin party, I'm even more stoked to hear what Zack and the Roaring Riot crew announced in high style today--a nationwide network, or union, of Panther fan clubs. They call it the Union of Roaring Riot, and you best believe if you are a Panther fan, this union of fan clubs is for you. "Our goal," founder Zack Lutrell beamed, "is for a Panthers fan to be anywhere in the United States and be able to look up where a Roaring Riot club is and join us." Roaring Riot took big step forward towards that goal when they announced the opening of Roaring Riot fan clubs in Raleigh, Atlanta, Denver, Washington, D.C., New Orleans and New York City. Roaring Riot members of these fan clubs get the inside tip on trips like the one we're crashing in Jacksonville, Florida and access to members-only events and free beers at tailgates before home games. Zack may have to reconsider that free beer thing when the Professor shows up, so I suggest you go ahead get your membership today. You know us ECU Cats know how to party!
It's Union, it's a Fan Federation, it's the Union of Roaring Riot and the beginning of a new age--Panther Nation the Imperial Era.
Cheered by the Professor, aka Tony Dunn