Panthers and Patriots fans flooded uptown Charlotte on Monday night in near equal numbers, eager to revel in the hype of a defining game for both teams.
Shelby resident Gary Chapman, a Panthers fan, had to get a hotel room in Cabarrus County because all of Charlotte’s uptown hotels were full.
“Before tonight, we were looking at being a wild card in the Super Bowl at best,” Chapman said.
For the Panthers, the game marked the first time that ESPN had featured the team on its Monday night football program since 2008. Read: the first chance in half a decade for the Panthers to prove they were more formidable than a mosquito bite.
On the Patriots’ side, Mike and Michelle Cornetta of North Attleborough, Mass., flew down to Charlotte with some friends to watch the game and reunite with Diane Blitchington, a former North Attleborough resident who has since moved to Chapel Hill.
“I’m psyched about the game because the Patriots are getting in stride, and the Panthers have won five games in a row,” said Michelle Cornetta.
Tammy Mooney of Boiling Springs, a Panthers fan, knew she was in mixed company as she headed to Bank of America Stadium.
Friend Maggie Hall, a Patriots fan, had told her that if Mooney’s Panthers won Monday night, she was going to be riding home in the truck bed.
But it was going to be worth it if it meant she’d have bragging rights until the next showdown between the teams, said Mooney.
“I can’t stand New England, especially since they put the Panthers out of the Super Bowl,” she said.
Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero
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