Panthers fan Daniel Solomon did not realize he was going to create such a stir when he wore his Carolina jersey that took a dig at the Atlanta Falcons and their Super Bowl loss Thursday night.
But Solomon, a military veteran who lives in the Raleigh area, didn’t mind the fuss. “It’s something I decided to do to poke a little fun at the Falcons,” Solomon told me Friday. “Their fans can really be kind of annoying.”
Solomon ordered his jersey from NFLShop.com, where you can customize practically any last name on any jersey. He typed in for the last name “ATL LED BY” and chose the number 25, so the full effect looks like a jersey that reads “ATL LED BY 25” on the back.
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The Falcons, of course, led 28-3 in the most recent Super Bowl against New England before losing.
Solomon wore the jersey for the first time Thursday night during Carolina’s preseason game against Pittsburgh, causing a number of double-takes in Bank of America Stadium. At least one fan snapped a picture of the jersey and put it on Twitter, where it began trending.
I saw the jersey on Twitter and asked for the fan who wore the jersey to contact me and – through the magic of social media – Solomon got my message through a friend on Friday. By that time, he had already attained temporary folk hero status among a subsection of Panthers fans.
Solomon said he served in the U.S. Army for four years as an infantryman. He was stationed for awhile in Italy and also at Fort Bragg. He has more recently been studying graphic design at Campbell University.
“I’ve been a Panthers fan since the team’s inception,” said Solomon, adding that he grew up in Miami but had lived in North Carolina for most of the past 20 years. “I’ve had PSLs (season tickets) for the past four of those seasons. My favorite game ever was the New Orleans win at home in the rain, in 2013.”
Solomon has always liked the number “25” and has in the past owned a Carolina jersey with that number and his own last name atop the numerals. This year he had the inspiration to keep the number but do something slightly different. He said the jersey was “all in fun” and he hoped nobody took it too seriously.
The jersey will make its regular-season debut along with the Panthers, Solomon said. He plans to travel to California along with his brother to watch the Sept. 10 game at San Francisco -- they generally pick one road game a year to attend.
And, of course, Solomon will be wearing the jersey.