Isaiah Saint Hilaire
This week I had the chance to speak to a few Panthers fans whom seemed pretty disappointed with their 2016 team in comparison to last year’s team. The mood I felt throughout my encounters with these fans were sad, frustrated and nerve-wrecking due to the poor record that the Panthers racked up this season. I spoke to them about the differences of this season and last season and everybody claimed that there is a huge difference between the 2015 and 2016 Carolina Panthers. Some had hope and some simply did not.
One student, junior Paul Hicks answered why he is a Panthers fan and his response was simple,
“Because they are the in-state team”.
The response puzzled me at first because many times fans love their team not only because of their feeling of being at home, but because of their passion for their team. Mr. Hicks simply stated that the home team means a lot to him and that he will remain loyal to any team in the Carolinas. I then asked him if he believes they will make the playoffs this year and he told me no because he believes that Josh Norman (their former Defensive Back) was the foundation of their secondary within their defense. He claimed that without that man, the Panthers’ secondary has no chance of stopping the pass, hence the 300 yards they gave up to Julio Jones against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4.
I spoke to another student named Jaronte Gibson, a senior here at UNCG. He explained to me that he is a Panthers fan because he has never lived outside of the Carolinas and he said “We desperately need a title on a major sport”. Saying that made me wonder about the all the major sports title’s we have accumulated in specifically the NFL. NONE! That was a stat that I honestly never thought of due to my affinity for the New York Giants. It was nice to hear that a loyal fan such as Mr. Gibson yearned to see a title brought to his home state. He spoke to me about how the Panthers of this year were not the Panthers of 2015, saying: “…other teams have studied the scout report from last year and figured out how to slow them down.”
He explained to me that many teams understand how to beat the Panthers both offensively and defensively by looking at film from last season. He told me that he does not believe the Panthers will go to the playoffs or make a SuperBowl run due to their abhorrent 2-5 record, and last place in the NFC south.
I spoke to a UNCG Senior, Will McGardey. I asked him why he was a Panthers fan and he simply said because his whole family have been Panthers fans since he could remember. He believes the Panthers are not as good as last season because of the loss of Josh Norman, Charles Tillman and Roman Harper who were all part of their secondary on their great defense last season. He still believes that the Panthers have a chance to make it to the playoffs because the only team they need to worry about is the Atlanta Falcons.
He also believes that if the Panthers do make the playoffs they can make a run to the SuperBowl because he believes they have the “Best two players in football in Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly”. Hearing this from Will really made me appreciate the fanbase the NFL has because no matter how bad a team is doing, there are loyal fans who will always be confident in their team no matter the odds.
Some fans were very frustrated, others still have hope that the Panthers will be relevant in late January. These interviews gave me the impression that we still have many believers that the Panthers can be very successful in the regular season of 2016. We saw how they pounded the Arizona Cardinals last week. If they have the determination to play how they did last week against Arizona, they will be a force to reckon with just as they were all last season. We will see what happens in the blistering cold come postseason of the 2016 NFL playoffs with the Carolina Panthers. Will they have frostbite or will they claw their way through the playoffs to the SuperBowl for the second consecutive season?