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Carolina Panthers-themed den wins fan final photo prize

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/06/19/12/YxNJT.Em.138.jpeg|209
    - COURTESY OF GLENN MAYS
    Carolina Panthers fan Glenn Mays of Wilmington, N.C. is shown in his Panthers den. The photo won the final prize in The Charlotte Observer’s preseason contest for Panther-craziness photos from fans.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/06/19/12/fN2yX.Em.138.jpeg|423
    - Glenn Mays
    An edited photo of DeAngelo Williams that Glenn Mays took. He brought it to training camp to get Williams’ autograph and says the running back told him he was very impressed with the photo and suggested a signature with a silver sharpie. “It is one of my proudest pieces,” Mays says. Photo courtesy of Glenn Mays
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/06/19/12/7V5AL.Em.138.jpeg|209
    - Glenn Mays, handout
    Glenn Mays (left) and his nephew by their front-row seats at a Carolina Panthers game at Bank of America Stadium. Courtesy of Glenn Mays
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/06/19/12/KAYrT.Em.138.jpeg|173
    - Courtesy of Glenn Mays
    A screen grab from the “Panthers Huddle” show of Glenn Mays (right) taking pictures at training camp in Spartanburg. Courtesy of Glenn Mays.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/06/19/12/1pbKQl.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - Glenn Mays
    One of the walls in Glenn Mays’ Panthers Den/mancave. “Every photo you see is one I took myself at games or training camp. The large one in the center I was able to get signed by everyone in the photo except Julius Peppers,” Mays wrote in an e-mail. “The large photo on the bottom is a shot I took at a game from my front row seats.” Courtesy of Glenn Mays.

Whenever anyone visits Glenn Mays’ home in Wilmington for the first time, they usually ask to see his Panthers den.

There, they’ll see the six helmets signed by various Carolina players. He also has jerseys, photos he’s taken, McFarland series figures, shot glasses, beer cans and other memorabilia. The walls are even painted gray, the stairs black and there are blue curtains hanging.

So how do people react?

“They’re impressed,” said Mays, 43. “They haven’t seen anything like that.”

A photo Mays submitted of his den is the final winner in the Observer’s contest for Panthers-craziness pics from fans. One winner was selected after each preseason game.

Mays, who grew up in Illinois, moved to North Carolina in 1989 when he was 18. A few years later, the NFL owners approved the Panthers franchise.

For Mays, a longtime football fan, having a new team in his new state was a perfect fit.

Mays bought season tickets that first season, driving to Clemson Stadium where the team played. (A copy of the tickets is framed in his den).

He tries to make it to at least one game a year, and has gone to training camp for a few days the past eight years. That’s where he got many of the autographs and photos in his den.

Mays says he’s liked many players over the years, especially receiver Steve Smith. This summer, he says he was impressed with receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Brenton Bersin, and running backs Kenjon Barner, Armond Smith and Tauren Poole.

He predicts the Cats will finish the season above .500,. “I can’t see us having a losing record, not with our defense,” he says.

Still, win or lose, Mays says he’s happy to see the team play. And he says talk of the Panthers possibly moving one day breaks his heart. (The team now has a six-year “hard tether” to stay in Charlotte in exchange for money for stadium renovations.)

“I was there for their birth,” Mays said. “I’ve just watched them grow and I can’t ever see myself not watching this team, not pulling for this team.”

Bethea: 704-358-6013. On Twitter: @AprilBethea
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