With the opportunity of chasing dollars in free agency or retiring, Charles Johnson chose to return to the Carolina Panthers in hopes of securing a Super Bowl Championship. Johnson revealed that he signed a 2-yr/9m dollar deal in a video to fans, where he pledged his blood and sweat for the next two years in hopes of bringing the Lombardi to Charlotte. It was optimistic and sentimental message.
As Johnson was signing likely his final NFL contract, Panthers team-leader, Thomas Davis, professed his unrelenting commitment to the organization and for Charles Johnson. Davis has become Carolina’s de facto leader and, in many ways, the embodiment of the organization. He’s the heir apparent to Sam Mills and become the team’s player spokesman. He was vocal this offseason about losing locker-room favorite, Mike Tolbert, and he was in open support of keeping in Charles Johnson in Carolina.
Before the ink had dried on Johnson’s contract, Davis was commenting about the bond which had formed between the two veterans during their time in Carolina. Davis, who is fiercely loyal to the organization and his teammates, described his incorruptible relationship with Johnson--much like brothers in battle.
There’s a sort of nostalgia in the air. Veterans have been especially vocal and are rallying the troops after a difficult 2016 season. Johnson has even been campaigning to bring back his mentor, Julius Peppers. Ryan Kalil is advocating for his brother, Matt, to join as a free agent, and there’s an urgency in Thomas Davis’s public statements. Their battle cries indicate the finality of the moment. If successful, they will become legends. If they fall short of total victory, their lore will only grow.
In 1836, near 200 men mounted their last stand at the Alamo. Facing an enemy force some claim to be as large as 6000 men, icons like James Bowie and Davy Crockett must have also recognized an end approaching. Although they suffered defeat in battle, their valiant fight invigorated their countrymen who soon found victory in Texas independence.
Like Bowie and Crockett, Johnson and Davis know an end is approaching. Davis hasn't defined it as clearly as CJ, but it’s clear he wants a career, which is already a remarkable story, to have a legendary ending. This Alamo-like mentality will surely result in an unyielding fight by Carolina in 2017. There will be many enemy casualties at the hand of the Panthers defense if this mentality displayed by Davis and Johnson becomes contagious. At worst, these two will add to their lore as Carolina greats. If successful, however, they will become legends.
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn
Follow @Cat_Chronicles for the latest Panthers news and opinions from the fan perspective.