Carolina Panthers

Jay Gruden hoping Washington still has fans in Charlotte on Sunday

Washington head coach Jay Gruden says his team always has good fan support on the road, and he hopes that is magnified on Sunday by the franchise’s pre-Panthers history in the Carolinas.
Washington head coach Jay Gruden says his team always has good fan support on the road, and he hopes that is magnified on Sunday by the franchise’s pre-Panthers history in the Carolinas. AP

It’s been more than a year since Washington won a road game, dating to a Week 8 overtime victory at Dallas last October.

Washington (4-5) will bring an eight-game, road losing streak to Charlotte on Sunday when they face the Carolina Panthers (9-0) at Bank of America Stadium.

It’s the longest active road losing streak in the NFL, although Washington coach Jay Gruden hopes to get a boost Sunday from what he hopes will be a large contingent of Washington fans at the game.

Before the Falcons (1966) and Panthers (1995) were founded, most NFL fans in the South rooted for Washington, in large part because Washington’s games were televised in the Southern markets.

“I understand before Carolina was there, I think Washington was like their home team because they were the only team they got on television,” Gruden said Wednesday during a conference call. “I know we’re going to have a lot of fans there like we do every week. And hopefully we can drown out some of the noise from Carolina because I know they’re playing well.”

When Washington played in Charlotte in 2011, an Observer columnist estimated 10,000 of the 70,000 in attendance were burgundy and gold-clad Washington fans.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he often meets Panthers’ PSL owners who tell him their first allegiance is to Washington.

“I’ve been told that. So hopefully we swayed them a little bit to cheer for us. I know Pittsburgh gets a big presence here and so do the Giants. There are a lot of transplanted folks that have come down here and they carry their allegiance,” Rivera said.

The Panthers have won an NFL-best seven in a row at home, a streak that does not include the playoff win against Arizona.

While there are plenty of transplants that have moved to Charlotte, Rivera also has met a number of first-generation Panthers fans.

“What I’m beginning to see is a younger generation of Panther fan,” Rivera said. “You’re starting to see more of the home-grown, which hopefully will outnumber the transplants.”

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