The more the Carolina Panthers win, the more calls and Tweets I receive and see during the game about how officials routinely favor Carolina’s opponent. Yet it’s not only the officials that are out to get the Panthers. It’s the national media.
Maybe both groups hold clandestine meetings in poorly lit secret rooms before the game, and search for new ways to go after Carolina. They do this because, I’m told, it is evident the NFL does not want Carolina to win. The Panthers are 8-0. Think about how undefeated they’d be if they were treated fairly.
▪ Ron Rivera said in his news conference after the game that he wasn’t sure who the Panthers would play next week. They play the Tennessee Titans on the road. I asked him later, as he walked through the locker room, if he really didn’t know.
Rivera made it clear he wasn’t slighting the Titans. He said he’s aware of the schedule, and knew his team had a game with Tennessee coming up, but wasn’t sure if it was this week. Rivera tells his players it’s about the journey and not the destination, and after the game he proved it.
▪ Didit seem as if the Panthers were going to win comfortably on Sunday? It didn’t. Aaron Rodgers has too much talent, and the Panthers are comfortable not winning by comfortable margins.
▪ The two best NFL fan bases that I’ve encountered are Pittsburgh’s and Green Bay’s. You saw Green Bay green throughout Bank of America Stadium, and you heard Packers’ fans, especially late in the game when they were provided with a reason to cheer. When I pulled into the lotwhere I parked Sunday, I felt as if I had entered Wisconsin. There was even a Brewers’ pennant. The game was sold out, of course, and secondary ticket prices were exorbitant. The economy in Packer country is percolating.
▪ How did rookie Devin Funchess celebrate his first NFL touchdown and his best NFL game? He drove his sister to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. He planned to give the touchdown ball to his grandfather.
▪ On the game’s final play, which also was Green Bay’s final play, there was a pass and two laterals. It was evident what the Packers were trying to do. But I don’t think it would have worked even if they had been playing Duke.