A funny feeling has been growing inside of me over the past several weeks.
It started after the Carolina Panthers beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in their season opener, a game I didn’t even remember was happening until I read the recap online a few hours later. (Well, maybe I didn’t actually read the recap, but I saw the headline, and it said the Panthers won.)
The feeling grew when the Panthers defeated the Houston Texans in Week 2. I was at the movies when the game was on TV, I’ll admit, but I caught the highlights on ESPN when I got home. (Or did I? I can’t remember. I had intended to, at least ...)
Then came another win. Then another. But it wasn’t until last week – after they upset the defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks on the road – that I fully recognized the emotions stirring inside my soul.
And now I want to throw it out there and scream it to all the world: I LOVE THE PANTHERS!
Man, I really, really love them. Or maybe I should say, I love us. That’s right, I can say it now since I’m a true fan: We beat the Seattle Seahawks last week, in our toughest test of the season.
As soon as Cam connected with Olsen on that final game-winning drive – as soon as it was clear Cam wasn’t going to miss a wide-open target and that Olsen wasn’t going to drop an easy pass – I jumped onto Facebook and posted the most creative thing that came to mind: “5 and Oh, BABYYYY!”
Then I scrolled through my feed and saw that one friend had posted “5-0!!” and another had posted “Five and Zero!!!” and another had posted “5. And. 0.”
Not wanting to be accused of unoriginality, I deleted my post and simply changed my profile picture to a photo of a Cam Newton jersey that I found online.
Several friends quickly clicked “Like” on it, but to my surprise, a couple of acquaintances who have had Cam Newton jerseys as their profile photos for several years chimed in with “Uh, bandwagon much?” and “#fairweatherfan” comments. Since those comments weren’t relevant to my photo, I decided to delete them and unfriended both people.
Still, I thought, it probably would be good to actually own a Panthers jersey and not just steal a photo of one. So I went over to the Team Store at Bank of America Stadium and, I’ll admit, I went a little crazy.
I bought a Panthers jersey, a Panthers banner for the front of the house, a Panthers phone case, a Panthers car decal (although I made sure it was easily removable), and a Panthers coffee mug that I plan to carry around and slurp loudly from all day long, just so people are clear about my allegiance.
With that shopping done, I now feel totally ready for this weekend. I’ll be back at the stadium for the first time since Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw did a concert there three years ago, decked out in my new jersey and a face full of blue and black paint, toting hilariously original jokes like “What do the Eagles and the Post Office have in common?? Neither deliver on Sundays!!”
If the Panthers win, I’ll try to bite my tongue and not light up the bandwagon fans who suddenly start talking on Monday like they’ve been supporting the team all along.
But if by some chance we lose ... anyone know what the Team Store’s return policy is?