In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d share three things that I’m thankful for (football-wise). There are many things for me to be thankful for this year but this short write up focuses on football. Leave what you are thankful for in the comments below and have fun reading what everyone is thankful for in Panther Nation.
First, I am thankful to be a fan of a team that is concerned about their fans and their community. What they do in this community is under-appreciated. I lived in Charlotte (pre-1988 or before we were a professional sports town). There was not anyone donating football field turf or equipment to local high schools. There were not kids getting footballs on Sunday while creating lifetime memories like the young fella in the picture above. There were not “heroes” visiting children in the hospital for Halloween. OK, there was that as I spent my Halloween as a 13-year old in the hospital, and there were plenty of heroes. Thank you, nurses and friends. However, there were not professional athletes making a kid’s day. Unless you count Ric Flair. There was not a Cam Newton hosting Thanksgiving for 800 kids and sending them home with a meal too. There was not a Steve Smith running a coat for kids drive. There was not the excitement and sense of community that we have now. Did you see their act of kindness to one of our own? How they treated my friend and a friend of C3, Lynn Leonhardt will never be forgotten. I know it touched her heart and gave her a day of excitement in an otherwise difficult (to say the least) time. Pro sports teams in the city you love changes things. It changes the city and it changes people. In the case of the Panthers and Hornets, it changes us for the better. Unlike our I-85 rivals, lol. Let’s try not to take our teams for granted.
Second, I’m thankful that the Panthers are still relevant this late in the season. There have been many-a-season where that’s not the case. When you grab that second helping and sit back to watch football with Uncle _______ talking about how bad Cam Newton’s attitude is or how he thought McCaffrey would be better, you can just smile and say “7-3 big guy, 7-3.” Just think about the Buffalo Bills fans who are now in the 18th straight season of not being in the playoffs. That is an entire generation of fans that haven’t seen one game in the playoffs. I’m thankful that our team is relevant.
Third, I’m thankful for the class that many of the Panthers players carry themselves with. I mean, from Cam Newton feeding people to Thomas Davis being the epidomy of Sam Mill’s inspired team slogan to Luke Keuchley’s uncanny game instincts to the amazing Julius Peppers, this is a fun team worth cheering for. The Panthers have done a great job of having high-character guys represent them. We are not the Cincinnati Bengals; the character does come first. The Panthers way is to do things the right way, to work hard and to keep pounding.
So what are you thankful for?