27 October, 2010


Greetings, Fanz -

It's certainly a different vibe I'm feeling as at last I return to the keyboard to post a rant chronicaling a major milestone, not only in my life, but that of your Miss December PantherFanz -

As most of you know, Lauren has just turned 21. As a lifelong sportsfan and shadow of her extroverted pops, her fondest wish for her threshold into adulthood was to spend the day (and night) in the town hosting Monday Night Football. As fortune would have it, it wound up being in Dallas, TX, where some of our very oldest and dearest friends from the halcyon days of living at the Lake Adult Apartments in the early 80's are now residing. So, with tickets to Jerry World procured, and airline tickets secured, the adventure for Little Princess was set.

As most of you already know, we begin this adventure in the PantherFanz party lot, complete with our Canadian Den, and lots and lots of 'shine for Lauren to toast on. Also, for the first time EVER, the whole Seer's family was present for the festivities. A decidedly positive vibe swept through the party, as Dano led us in the proper usage of the now famous "CLAW". Another first found me LEAVING the stadium site after the pre-game party, on my way to conclude Lauren's dearest birthday wish.

After a non-eventful flight, where the attendant informed me they didn't have Dewars, just White Label, (!) (I ordered a double anyway -) we came to Big D looking for a big buzz - and we found it the next day at the sports megasite in Arlington where the game would be played. It doesn't take long to find the opulent Jerry World from anywhere there - a circling of a half-dozen airplanes carrying banners guide you into the Dallas Cowboys Experience. A cooler full of beer, a bag full of Spring Creek Texas barbecue,(OUTSTANDING local 'cue) and our tailgate-virginal hosts quickly elevated our spirits in anticipation of the evening's contest, as an unusually WARM and STRONG wind began to blow in from the west, making keeping your 'cue on your lap a challenge.

Now, you've all seen Cowboys Stadium on TV, some of you may have actually been there, but for the majority of you who've not, nor may never be there, there is no substitue for being there. It positively DWARFS our own BOA, and unlike the Panther's den, it is surrounded on at least 50% of it's outside area by SEAS of parking lots that hold tens of thousands of vehicles, full of tailgaters. After we had finished our 'cue and beer, we ventured out to knock elbows with the largest collection of Dallas Cowboy fans anywhere in the universe. The fact that Lauren and I were in our specially made Panthers jerseys with NEJBERGER on the back made instant and friendly conversation with the jazzed but polite Cowboy fans (hers was 21, obviously, and mine was 50). An off-duty cop libated Lauren with an ice-cold Corona as we approached the maw of this amazing structure. Jerry World, quite unlike BOA, has at least a dozen spectator entrances, making the now mandantory trip through security a breeze, and now, we are drinking in the opulence that is without question the finest structure ever built for any kind of spectator sport, and that includes the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill, Lambeau Field, even Turner Field.

Jerry Jones makes sure you know where you are when you are in his palace. Navy and silver dominate the aqutriments, along with the ubiquitious star. Ghosts of Cowboy past also dominate the place as well. The steely glint of Tom Landry can be seen anywhere and everywhere inside, which is weird considering the miserable way JJ disposed of the iconic coach. The faces of Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett can also be seen in many decorations. And the place is IMMACULATE. AND EXPENSIVE. $17.00 buys you a pair of Miller Lites (you can't find a BUD here)and you should tip your beer man as well, so 200.00 bucks doesn't last you long when you're picking up the tab for yourself, Little Princess, and your good buddies who sprang a small fortune for four tickets on Level 2. Thank goodness Lauren doesn't need much to get zippy.

So into the seats we materialize, and I'm in complete awe of this place, the largest indoor facility I've ever seen. I KNOW you could fit BOA in here with room to fly a couple of Blackhawks safely around it. OH - AND THAT MONSTROUS TV - seeing it on your small, or even large screen at home cannot in any way even remotely convey the MASSIVE size of it. The picture is photo-clear, and unobstructed by ANYTHING in that stadium, and then, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders come out to dance. Nothing can prepare you, if you're a red-blooded testosterone poisoned organism, for the absoulte sex-dripping beauty that is the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. They are without a doubt, the finest, the hottest, the sexiest collection of young women I have ever seen. They are a brand unto themselves, FanZ, and they CAN dance - I imagine there's the Cleveland Browns cheerleaders, The Raiderettes, every one else's cheer squad, and in a seperate galaxy, are these girls. The Top Cats get an honorable mention for Tampa bathroom stall sexcapades, but cannot compare to this group.

And I begin to contemplate this place, this city, this team, that is both equally loathed and loved from Moscow, Idaho, to Moscow Russia, from ChristChurch, New Zealand to Iceland. And I begin to understand it all. Let me digress from my travelogue for a moment -

The year was 1968. I was a lonely boy who'd just arrived in Huntsville, Alabama from Fayetteville Tennessee, and I met a husky boy who for all the world resembled a miniature HR PUFFNSTUFF, Ricky Elliott, who, along with his love for fossils and paleoentology, loved football and The Dallas Cowboys. He became my best friend and taught me how to box, hunt fossils, and play football. So naturally, the team with the star was my first NFL love. My heroes were Roger Staubach, Don Meridith, Bob Hayes, Randy White, and so many others that populated Tom Landry's elite team. I dreamed for years about coming to the stadium with the hole in the roof before Jerry Jones gutted the team of my youth, driving me to the fleur-di-lis adorned team to the east. I will admit being a little sad at never having done so when the dynamite leveled the hallowed Texas Stadium. So, there's a little childhood memory escaping the dungeons of my mind as the game begins -

And I now return to my tale.

This place gets LOUD. I saw a FEW, and I mean A FEW Noo Yawk G'ints fans in the place. It's nothing like going to a Panthers game, where you can find at LEAST 20% of the other teams colours there, more if it's these Cowboys. Of course, there's a smattering of Rangers garb, because they're in the World Series, and the Cowboys are 1-4 at gametime and in peril of dropping out of the playoff chase. But these fans are confident at the beginning of the night. And they're loud. And when the Dallas Defense forces three, yes, THREE turnovers to start the game, it looks like they will EMPHATICALLY crush the losing streak they're on! The mountain-sized TV emplores the 100,000 Cowboy fans to make noise, and they oblige. It feels like a religious experience that I simply did not expect. Even Lauren fell under the spell of the Cowboy mystique which is frequently wrote about, and ridiculed about, but not always experienced by those leagues of sports fans who truly hate this overexposed franchise. After Hakeem Nicks ensures victory for The Mighty Nimrods, my fantasy team, I find myself CHEERING, yes, actually CHEERING for the Cowboys, in full throat, for the first time since 1985! Lauren makes an analogy that she's Dorothy in the Emerald City of Oz, and if you're any kind of a football fan, an evening in Jerry World is just like it, even to those jaded like me that have been in many NFL stadiums. But when Tony Romo is smeared into the Field Turf, the energy quickly ebbs. The defense vanishes, the offense under Jon Kitna turns into the Panthers, the cheering stops, the fans leave. For all of the glitter, the opulence, the atmosphere seen nowhere else in the world, Dallas Cowboys fans act just like the rest of us when we are disgusted with their team. They pour out of there well before the fourth quarter is halfway old. And before Dez Bryant adds a bit of shine to the star, we join the exodus. I have a mixture of odd feelings, a bit of joy that our lowly, sucky, dregs of the NFL Panthers have the same record as the preseason darling of the league almost EVERYONE expected to be first team EVER to play the Super Bowl in their home town. But I feel sad for Mike and Mary, our hosts, because my very good friends are LIFELONG Cowboy fans, and they, just like everyone else who ADORES this team, drank DEEPLY of the preseason Kool-Aid, and at 1-5, with Romo out for what could likely be the season, it looks like it's over for any of this superfoulous playoff talk.

That warm wind blowing during tailgate time had turned into a gale, making it impossible to re-fire my traditional gametime stogie for that depressing walk to the car. Lauren, however, flitted around like a happy butterfly, welcoming the exiting Cowboy fans to the league of suckiness. Most took her good-naturedly. What else could they do?

And I began to line up the ironies and similarities like metaphysical dominoes while the Nejbergers and Ozments continued our buzz into the bedroom community of Mansfield.

Jerry Jones is good pals with another Jerry - THE BIG CAT. They are among the top of the lists of respected and git-er-done owners. But JR has taken quite a different method to stocking his NFL team than his friend JJ. The Cowboys have the HIGHEST payroll in the NFL this season, the Panthers the lowest. And what does that equal?



A mountain of pre-season hype crushed. A malestrom of pre-season anxiety confirmed. Huge fan bases now enraged about ticket prices and the prospect of half-empty stadiums and TV blackouts. The talk of fired coaches and draft choices. Fan ambivilance that turns into finding something else to do on Sunday afternoons. And media talk shows that daily crucify the guilty and innocent alike.

But there's a big difference in our two cities. Dallas is the home of one of sports most recognized global brands. The Star. The legends. The Man in The Hat. The Rings. The nations of fans, both boorish and educated, ignorant and elegant. The Panthers, a local microbrew by comparision. The media will pick at this Cowboy carcass for the whole season, while OUR Panthers quietly lick their wounds and find out who among these young "Cowboys" I wrote about a few weeks ago can actually play.

And sure enough, a couple of stars began to ingnite and glow for both of our teams this weekend. Dez Bryant, a top draft choice at wideout, was a monstrous impact for Dallas, and will likely supplant Roy Williams or even Miles Austin. And David Gettis, that 6th round pick out of Bayor, that world-renowned hotbed of recievers, eclipsed his idol, Steve Smith on this day. And Brandon LaFell began to catch balls, energizing this lifeless offense, and applying the miracle deodarant to the team, the town, and all of it's fans.

A victory.

A game to put to end, albeit for the short term, talk of wretched play, overrated and overpaid non-stars, and fired coaches. A game to make you interested in what happens next week, and God forbid it, a possibility, no matter how remote, of a ten-game winning streak.

And having been so well hosted and treated by Cowboy Nation as a Panther Fan in the center of their Emerald City, I hope they get the same experience sometime soon.

And for the first time, I really, sincerely mean it.

Go Rangers!

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09 October, 2010

CONFIMRATION, with a correction

Hello, FanZ -

It's the end of an exhausting day on the eve of a very exciting morning in our lot. I realize after viewing our interview on News36, I INCORRECTLY illustrated DA BEARSS' jersey colours as BLACK and orange. They are actually

NAVY and orange

And I stand by my prediction, that Peppers makes a game-changing play for the OVERRATED Monsters of the Midway.

It's one prediction I hope I'm wrong about.

And when the sun finishes melting them on the sunny side of the field, it will be HIS play that will be the only thing that doesn't wither away for them.

Thanks for hangin' with me, FanZ, and thanks to the head coach for having me fly wing with Matthew at the studios.

Indeed, my a-game to present tomorrow morning.

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05 October, 2010


A lot of people don’t know this about me, but once in a while, I LOVE to get my eyeballs around a really good Western. And I LOVE the more recent films with the elder Marion “Duke” Morrison in the starring role of the aged gunslinger, lawman, cowboy, etc. And upon getting the double dip news about Dewayne Jarrett driving while wasted, AND getting cut, gave me pause, and I started to think about the last Western I enjoyed – twice in one week – Here’s the basic plotline –

An aging trailmaster has his regular crew take off from his ranch during the Gold Rush of ’49. Desperate for help, he visits a local schoolhouse in consideration of hiring some teenage boys for the 400 mile cattle drive. He leaves disgusted, but the next morning all the boys from the schoolhouse, from pre-pubescent to mid-teens show up eager for the adventure. After all of them successfully show their riding and roping skills, they take off for Montana, where they quickly learn to become men. When rustlers show up and mortally wound John Wayne’s character and take off with the herd, the young boys, after getting over their sorrow and shock, devise a plan with the help of the chuckmaster, kill all the rustlers, and get Will Andersen’s cattle to their destination.

The movie, of course, is 1972’s The Cowboys, and it has the honour of being one of a very few Westerns I’ve paid money to see in the theatres. Get the pixtchure?

I couldn’t help thinking of the aged John Fox, with a football season to get through, and nothin’ but a group of kids to “drive the cattle” to their final destination. Just think about it! When have we had a team THIS young? Who is starting this weekend against the Bears? A rookie QB, ALL rookie wideouts, two and three year backs, a defense full of recent draft picks –

And like the kids that showed up at Will Andersen’s ranch-

They can do the job well enough for Sunday. Or they would have never made it to the league. They’ll make their mistakes. They are getting their coach (or coaches) fired. Ok, that’s a stretch. But you can see the lines I’m trying to draw. Anything is possible in the NFL, but I think we can all say with a large measure of certainty –

We are NOT making the playoffs this year. Not with this group. Not with this coaching staff. But these young professionals, some of whom are young enough to be our kids, are getting their shot to play a big man’s game. Just as it was to watch the little boys grow into men on that cattle drive, it should be heartening to watch who among these kids wearing Panther Blue is going to step up and be a long-term player. As a father-coach who coached Lauren and her friends in basketball, I can relate to pulling for kids. One thing’s for sure – we WILL finish the season, and the next steps will be taken by the Big Cat to rebuild his (and OUR) beloved NFL franchise. We will see a vastly different Panther team next year, if the dreaded lockout does not materialize.

Just as the parents of those Cowboys saw very different kids when they returned to Will Andersen’s ranch when the drive was over.

A short little rant this midweek evening. Thanks, ^(^#@^#@^+_%$@##+@ computer, for letting me get this far with this…

I’ll be back with thoughts about the weekend –

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03 October, 2010


This is a true factual story, culled from the pages of Time-Life’s EXCELLENT series of books chronicling
World War II.

A group of young grade-school age boys in Hiroshima, Japan on the morning of August 6th, 1945 were playing their favorite game of “dive for the bell” at the edge of a pond before their classes were to begin on that day. The weather was warm, clear, and beautiful. Upon his turn to fetch the bell, one of the boys took his plunge into the water to retrieve the bell.

The time was 8.15AM.

The bell was actually an important heirloom from one of his dearest relatives, who would be most upset at this use of such a family valuable. He couldn’t find it. He held his breath, and desperately flashed his fingers through the silty bottom until he felt it’s familiar form in his trembling hands. He shot up to the surface, and sucked in a precious breath, and came back to a completely different world. The B-29 ENOLA GAY had dropped its lethal payload over the city, covering it with an apocalyptic fire never seen by man’s eyes before. The friends he left were smoking cinders by the banks of the pond, the school and surrounding buildings flattened like card houses. And the ghastly procession of burned, mortally wounded countrymen , women, and children, was soon to begin. The boy survived the hell of the day, to tell the story years later, to those entrusted to the memory of the Day of the “Pika-DON”.

And why I would think of this story today, after sifting through the debris of today’s game, another loss in a surprisingly listless season, is this.

While the NFL yearly campaign is SO not the intense conflagration of war, particularly one fought with nuclear weapons, and unfortunately, so many writers who cover this game use warfare as a metaphor for the truculent sport we adore, I thought of our Panthers of as late as last year, when an unknown and untried benchwarmer named Matt Moore was given the keys to the offense, and lo and behold –
Mini-Soda Favres – DEFEATED.
SuperBowl Saints – DEFEATED.

Had any random but passionate fan not following the team as closely as some of us had done in the offseason suddenly tuned into this team, they would be shocked at what remains of the Panthers after the Richardson Purge of 2010, as the little Japanese boy was when he saw what he knew completely blown away by the forces of unbridled vengeance of the American juggernaut.

A running team that can’t run.

An attacking defense that can’t make plays. That can’t pressure the opposing quarterback.

Special teams that can’t cover in the return game, that can’t create consistent touchbacks.

Receivers that cannot catch the ball.

An offensive line that can’t open holes or protect the quarterback.

And, a coaching staff and front office that has, all of a sudden, made unfathomably BAD personnel moves.

And other than the special teams, so many facets of the Panther’s game resemble nothing like the team we’ve been so excited to support. Some of the names are the same, but gone are many of the playmakers we’ve been accustomed to cheering for. If you’re like me, you’re glad that Peppers is gone, you’re glad that DelHomme is gone, and you’re glad you’ve got Jimmy Claussen on your team, but the Golden Domer isn’t ready for this game yet, and the roster full of rookies and sophomore draft choices have done nothing to make me think that they are capable replacements for the high-performing veterans that were shown the door. Hoov? One of the best, and underrated fullbacks in the game. Moose? One of the best blocking receivers in modern NFL history. Harris? A chaos-creating safety that is a hallmark of an aggressive defense.

Four games into this season, and there is virtually nothing on this team this side of Mike Goodson that gets me excited. I remember when I first took the keyboard in succession to Marc’s regular rants about the team – I spouted visceral criticisms, heartfelt desire for change, because I cared, and cared deeply.
This collapse into the depths of the league where the Lions, Browns and Raiders normally abide has been swift, and unexpected. I find myself, like many others who follow this team religiously –


A deadly state for a fan base. I remember when Jerry Richardson finished the George Seifert era back at the end of a tortuous 2001 season. He described the “energy being sucked out of the stadium”. What in the hell do you think awaits him when he attends the next 6 home games? The state of this team could be worse than that of Chris Weinke’s team.

Here’s what’s coming down the pike –

This Sunday coming up – A stadium half-filled with Bears fans.
October 24 – A stadium half empty, because the Niners may suck as bad as we do, maybe worse.
November 7th- A stadium full of front-runner Saints fans.
November 21st – A stadium full of Ravens fans.
December 12th – A stadium full of Duckies fans.
And to close the “LitterBox” for the season – the sucky Cardy-noles. Attendance could wind up being worse than the 30 thousand Pastry-Rot fans cheering for their boy Brady and the smattering of miserable PantherFanz there, just because.

And that’s not counting the roadkill against the Lambs, the Suckaneers, and yes, THE BROWNS, the Seahawks, the Duckies and the Squeelers.


It’s not what I expected of the season. But dear blog reader, I have resolutely decided –

I will be in the lot. I will be in my seat for every remaining game, save the 9er’s game, as Lauren and I will be on a plane to JerryTown. I will continue to support the team and fellowship with the fans as much as possible. I remember writing a rant about the team I loved, and the team I married. We’re married to these Panthers, especially those of you with PSL’s. For Better or for worse, we’ve got this football team, that’s been gutted by it’s owner in preparation for the decennial labor unrest. Perhaps Uncle Jerry sees something coming we don’t, and he’s’ protecting himself and his investment in this league. Yes, I will be there, I will tie myself to the mast and hang on during this maelstrom of a season, until we’ve come to calmer waters. With, undoubtedly, a new coach, a new staff, and a new front office.

I’ve spent the beginning of the season struggling with the family computer, and having finally cleared enough disk space for this thing to be reasonably running again, I hope to return to contributing weekly to the website again. I do have to share the machine with Jessie, who is in her junior year at East Meck’s IB program, the toughest in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, as she works on project after project. I hope to be able to write realistic but positive assessments of this team as we go through a season we haven’t seen the likes of –perhaps never.
But we all need to hold onto the bell we dove in for. Hiroshima’s a rebuilt city, with very little left to suggest it was leveled. In the seasons to come, the Panthers will be rebuilt, into a team we will all be excited to cheer for again, a team we will get fired up about at each other’s house parties, a team we will get into the Cedar Street lot early for. I believe it.

I will “Claw On”. Just because I have to, no –


See you at the lot, friends. It’s good to be back.

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