If Im a very old woman who struggles to get around, and Carolina Panther coach Ron Rivera and his players offer to lead me across the street, I decline.
The Panthers would do great getting her off the curb and past the stripe in the middle of the road.
But 5 feet from the other side, theyd fall or get nervous or forget the woman was there.
As light turned to dark, shed be alone in traffic, dodging SUVs, vans and the occasional city bus.
The Panthers cant finish. They failed again to finish Sunday. They needed leadership and inspiration and they needed to adjust. They did not.
Tampa Bay, which trailed 21-10 with 6 minutes remaining, scored on its final three possessions and won in overtime 27-21.
For the Panthers it was another in a series of come-from-ahead defeats.
If you want to attribute the loss to one man, its Rivera.
I like Rivera. Everybody who has spent time around him does. There are middle school coaches who think theyre a big deal because theyre middle school coaches and have the whistles to prove it. Rivera is without pretension. If you dont think thats important, you dont spend time around professional sports teams.
Unfortunately, Rivera is as overmatched as a head coach as his defense tends to be late in a game.
I asked Rivera how hed explain Sundays almost inexplicable loss to a fan who hadnt seen it.
We missed the opportunity, he says. If we could have made something happen in the four-minute offense, gotten another first down, then game over. If we could have made a play at the end of the game, game over. But we didnt.
As Rivera spoke after the loss, courteous as always, he looked as down as I have seen him.
The Panthers, whove lost eight of their 10 games, have so many close losses its as if they collect them.
Are they snake bit?
Thats not it, says Ronde Barber, veteran Tampa Bay safety and unofficial team spokesman.
Then what is it?
A lot of different factors, Barber says. Ive seen most of their (Carolinas) games. They have talent. Its not the players and its not the coaches. They just havent been able to finish games.
Last season the Buccaneers didnt. They won three of their first four and finished 4-12. The Panthers beat them by 19 and 32 points.
So they started over. Now theyre 6-4.
What did you do?
No comment, says Barber, smiling.
With a little prompting he says: New players and a new coach.
Barber adds: Our attitude changed. Good for us.
Failure creates change. The 2012 Panthers are a failure. As the close losses suggest, they have the talent to win. But they dont.
Rivera was a player and a defensive coordinator, but this is his first stint as a head coach. Doesnt mean he wont get another one.
Maybe Rivera is a superior coordinator such as former Carolina head coach, and current Green Bay defensive coordinator, Dom Capers. But Capers is not a head coach. Maybe Rivera is not a head coach. Or maybe hes not a head coach yet.
The Panthers lost a close game at home Oct. 21 to Dallas, and team owner Jerry Richardson responded by firing general manager Marty Hurney the next day.
Richardson could justify firing Rivera Monday. But it would do nothing more than (temporarily) appease his frustration and the frustration of his dwindling fan base.
After the season Richardson will hire a new general manager and the general manager will have he has to have the authority to hire a coaching staff.
The Panthers started over last season. Theyll start over again next season.
They dont have to start over Monday.