NFL records may be set this week, when the Carolina Panthers begin auctioning off what has to be some of the largest sports memorabilia in league history.
The online auction, starting Monday, features a trio of 19-foot-high, 34-foot-wide vinyl Panther heads that became a highly recognizable part of uptowns skyline when they were mounted on the backs of scoreboards at Bank of America Stadium back in 2004.
Also up for bidding is a rug-sized strip of the stadiums field vinyl wall cover (6 feet by 17 feet), and a section of wall mural (60 inches by 72 inches) from the teams weight room, featuring autographs of all the players in 2011.
The collection (excluding the autographed wall) is made up of items that outlived their usefulness after the team refined its logos earlier this year.
All the old stuff came down, the new stuff went up, and the team decided to get creative with its leftovers. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the teams Keep Pounding Fund at Carolinas HealthCare Foundation, which supports cancer research at the Levine Cancer Institute and the Levine Childrens Hospital.
Team spokesman Riley Fields said the auction offers a rare chance for fans to own an iconic piece of the teams history. This is particularly true of the cat heads, which he describes as a calling card for Bank of America Stadium.
Bidding is being handled through the NFLs auction site and will end Aug. 20.
The catch, of course, is that high bidders will need an equally grand scale idea for how to display their prizes.
Fields cant help but be optimistic: This isnt the first time the team has done something unusual on behalf of charity.
Back in 2004, team officials auctioned off 16 sections of stadium turf, linked to big moments in the Panthers 2003 rise to the Super Bowl. Fans went for it, too, paying as much as $500 for the 4-inch by 4-inch sections of dirt and raising $4,000 for charity.
Word has already begun to spread about the Panthers head auction, and its clear avid souvenir collectors are now asking themselves: How big is too big?
Dan Ortel is probably Charlottes best known Panthers fan, having been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fames Pro Football Ultimate Fan Association. Hed like to own one of the heads.
But Im guessing the homeowners association would have a problem with me putting them on the side of the house, Ortel said. Whats cool about them is theyre timeless. They capture a point in history. Teams go through uniform and logo changes, and these Panther heads are a throwback, an original. Its like owning an original Coke bottle.
His wife of 14 years, Yvonne, is a big Panthers fan, too, but she doesnt see it that way. She said her husband has already brought home enough silly things for tailgating parties that she cant get her car into the garage. This includes a pork smoker and a portable custom-made bar in team colors.
I havent drawn a line yet, she said, but I dont want that big thing on the side of my house. If the homeowners association lets him, Im sure hed try.