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Scott Fowler: The Carolina Panthers will pay defensive end Greg Hardy at least $7 million for not playing, and no one is happy about it.

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera is a good man in a bad situation. He is obviously struggling with what the best thing to do in the Greg Hardy situation is now, and there are no easy answers. But here’s what he should do.

After one of the odder weeks in Carolina history, the Panthers evened things out for their fans Sunday.

Despite missing a lot of practice reps through ankle and rib injuries, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton had good enough timing with all his receivers to spread the ball around on Sunday.

There’s nothing quite like an NFL home opener, and Sunday’s game matching the Carolina Panthers and the Detroit Lions will be a fun one, especially with Detroit WR Calvin Johnson in town.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson have mishandled domestic violence issues, and the consequences keep reverberating. In Goodell’s case, it can’t be fixed, but Jerry Richardson can still get it right, if he puts action behind his words.

The saga of Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano and the trombone player from Bethune-Cookman who Gano pushed out of his way at halftime Sunday has a happy ending.

Every good NFL game has a touch of the bizarre, and that was provided Sunday when Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano wound up in the middle of the Bethune-Cookman marching band at halftime.

OK, before anyone gets riled up about this: There is no quarterback controversy in Carolina.

For whatever reason, the Carolina Panthers have always struggled in season openers. The last time they won one was 2008.

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Scott Fowler is a national award-winning sports columnist for The Charlotte Observer.