The mom watches as her oldest bolts past her and races to the dirty clothesbasket. He emerges wearing a filthy Carolina Panthers T-shirt, and preempts her predictable protest. “Mom! I have worn this shirt during every game . . .” he pauses dramatically, “Except one.” She weighs the muddy mess of the clothes against the momentarily unspoiled fabric on her sofa. Clearly there is only one reasonable response. “Fine, wear it” she says, and turns on the game.
You want the truth about the reasons for this remarkable Panthers season? I think you can handle it.
Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina right now as the Panthers prepare to go to the Super Bowl. This team is adored. Besides having insane skills, our players are charitable, handsome, and so very joyful on the field. Cam Newton is a Superman and an MVP candidate – but even with his indisputable personal contributions to this successful season he never fails to thank his deserving teammates for their efforts. And to the eternal glee of Panther Nation, the team also consistently thanks the fans for their support.
And that is how it should be. Fans have been visual and vocal in their enthusiasm for the home team, sporting gear and cheers on game days and beyond. But besides the public passion for the Panthers, there’s even more that has gone on behind the scenes to make this season possible.
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Like our family’s Panthers balloon. I bought the balloon in September to celebrate my son’s birthday. When I began decorating for Christmas I noticed it was still—mysteriously – flying high. There was only one explanation. This was a magic balloon, obviously connected to the Panthers’ incredible season. So my family agreed in December that we would not disturb the spot where the balloon resides.
It is now the end of January. The balloon has turned sideways, half up and half down – which made sense when we played the Seahawks . . . but after the Cardinals game it should have been soaring towards the ceiling, were it really related to the team’s success. Just when I was thinking it would be fine to move it, I remembered the response from Facebook when I polled folks around the holidays about my increasingly inconvenient amulet. The response was swift and unanimous. Do. Not. Move. That. Balloon.
And so I haven’t. I know it may seem crazy to participate in these superstitious shenanigans – but when did crazy ever stop me before? There’s so much that we argue about – as a country, as a city, as individuals. It’s a rare gift when something brings so many people together. There are those who have hated on the Panthers all season, but we Charlotteans know the truth: The coming together of this football family has been nothing short of magical.
Want to get a better handle on the reasons for the Panthers’ season? Read Scott Fowler’s article on the superstitions of Panthers players and their fans, remember a time when we had growing pains, and note that the team that has fun together wins together.