29 August, 2011


We’ve often heard that the third pre-season game in the NFL is what most coaches like to call their “dress rehearsal”, with the starters and first-stringers playing for most of 3 quarters. I’m going to admit that I found myself very excited about watching these NEW Carolina Panthers against a team that, frankly, wasn’t very good last year, wasn’t expected to be very good THIS year, and presented favorable matchups for our Panthers. With a half gallon of PREMIUM chili in hand, I hurriedly zipped to Casa Dano for the evening. The game couldn’t have started better –

Most of you saw that impressive defensive play that put the ball in the Panther’s offensive paws in the first quarter, with DESIGNED PLAYS showcasing Cam Newton’s amazing running ability, and he scored his very first NFL touchdown! It was to be pretty much the only highlight of the evening. As I saw BOTH lines of scrimmages pushed around like they would be overweight middleschoolers.

And I began to ponder the notion of a “dress rehearsal”. What I SAW was a bunch of football players that might as well have been wearing DRESSES, that frock that adorns WOMEN. Hell, the HOGETTES could have possibly put up a better fight that these STARTING units did! The defensive line was far worse, truth be told. They absolutely looked LOST, as the Bungles gashed them for almost 300 yards and 24 UNANSWERED POINTS in the first half. It was a carbon copy of what we saw the week before at Miami. And Dano and I began to contemplate a 4-12 season.

Or worse.

Now, I would be one of the first to say that pre-season success is much like “fools gold”. You can NEVER accurately predict what any particular team is going to do by what they do in the pre-season. And, conversely, pre-season FAILURE could be the very best thing for any team trying to work out kinks and problems in any given unit. I’ve seen traditionally good teams stink it up in August, only to tear it up in the regular season, and I’ve seen the Lions win ALL FOUR of the preseason games, only to return to the cold, murky bottom of the standings. DC Jim McDermott spent the entire first half in an uncustomary position for him, up in the coaching booth. He usually hones his craft on the sidelines, and when he returned to the field for the third quarter, the defense DID actually start to play better, but by that time, the game was already decided, and I began to pick apart the carcass. Here’s my thoughts about this DRESSY game –

First and foremost, this team belongs to Cam Newton. No question about that. The way this offense responds to him is like night and day as compared to when Claussen is behind center. Second, Newton’s completions to the tight end CONTINUES to be more than that of the wide receivers. If I’m a ASTUTE football fan, I would NOT be concerned about this. The tight end is an INTEGRAL part of Rob Chudzinski’s offense. Which tells me –

Cam is getting it. Steadily, surely, he’ll get it. And when he does, you will see the beginning of an truly exciting offensive machine. And there will be plenty of balls for Smitty and his WR mates, I guarantee it.
I wouldn’t worry about this offense right now. We are getting Jeff Otah back, and if he’s healthy for the bulk of the season, we’ll move the ball, absolutely.

Thirdly, this defense is a mess. The players we have to play the all – important tackle position are so far behind right now, it handicaps the things the ends can do. The secondary is slow, and leaky. The linebackers are going to have to shoulder the load on this unit, and I hope to heaven that our depth holds out. My buddy Wildman had the interesting thought -

What if we went from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, considering the abundance of those quality linebackers?
I know it’s somewhat ridiculous to change something so fundamental so close to the regular season, but if the defense looks like what we saw last Thursday, what would we have to lose? I DO hope it doesn’t come to that, and that McDermott fixes the egregious errors he saw. It’s a new coaching staff too, y’all, and they’ve got to find their way as well.

And, we’ve got an opportunity to make some quality adds when the cuts come out this week. And because of our stellarly BAD record, we’ve got first dibs on the waver wire. So, I wouldn’t be so terribly gloomy right now. We’ve got a meaningless game against the Squeelers this Thursday, and a stadium that is sure to be half filled with their fans. ***oh*** joy **** I cannot tell you how disgusted I am at that prospect.

But even with my cautious optimism, I recall last year, where the offense failed to score a touch in all four games. It was indeed a bellwether for the season. This year’s defensive squad could be tolling the tone of the regular season. And I hope I’m wrong, dead wrong, but I’m thinking we’re somewhere in the middle of dreadful, and worthy of dread.

That’s my rant of the week, y’all! I’ll see some of you in the lot Thursday, some of you in the stadium, and ALL of you back next week, with my predictions for the season! Stay Tuned!

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14 August, 2011


August 14th, 2011

Ok, I’m going to confess.
Last year, I had run out of desire to rant about the Panthers by November.

Come on, how much more vitriol could I possibly heap on a situation that was bad, getting worse, and becoming simply unbearable to watch, either on TV, or in that mausoleum of a stadium that OUR PSL’s built? How many more ways can you say “WE SUCK!!!” ??? It’s not my nature to be a pessimist, nor is it healthy for me to spend a whole lot of time focusing on the negative.

Combined with a battle for computer time with my academic-obsessed younger daughter, I acquiesced the seat at the desk to her, while the very WORST TEAM in Carolina Panther history took the field, if you can call it that.

If you want to argue about which season was worse, the 1-15 Sei-fart debacle, or this abortion of last year, you won’t have many supporters for your choice of the 2001 cat-tastrophe. At LEAST the 1-15 Panthers were competitive – They COULD score, but the defense couldn’t stop anyone. This abomination? Totally, 100% UNWATCHABLE.

So, as the debris of the season settled into the field of Jerry World, with the Green Bay Packers decisively delivering an intense gluteal discomfort to those Pissburgh Squeelers, and subsequently hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, I turned my attention to the NCAA basketball season, and watched with joy as the Mighty Tar Heels renewed my sports enthusiasm, and kept the Panthers and the NFL on the periphery, if at all.

And the news was less than stellar – The “savior” of the franchise, one Andrew Luck, as our “luck” would have it (bad pun VERY intended) decided to stay at Stanford, while a long-time candidate that was always denied a head coaching position FINALLY got his opportunity - WITH US. And to Ron Rivera’s misfortune, he came on just in time for a long, contentious owner-generated lockout that effectively wiped out the OTA’s that train and hone all NFL players in the offseason. Pardon me if I’m not tingling with excitement at the prospect of a long time coordinator, always the bridesmaid, never the bride, taking the keys from Uncle Jerry to a jalopy of a football team, that would be crippled even further by a work stoppage.

And surprisingly, I found myself not bothering to care.

Begrudgingly, I renew my season tickets, knowing that we could be looking at another suck-fest of a season. Add to that that there were no clear-cut can’t miss opportunities with the #1 pick our franchise-worst season awarded us. The only great thing coming out of Draft Day was the PantherFanz Party Prowler winning first place in the first annual Pride Rides completion, and deservedly so. With so many fans, divided on who should be our top choice, it was no surprise to hear the moaning and groaning over the selection of Auburn one-year-wonder Cam Newton, who by the way, also won college football’s over-hyped John Heisman trophy as well as guiding his Tigers to the mythical National Championship. So many times I have seen Heisman Trophy winners flame out in the NFL, so I met the announcement with a “meh” kind of attitude. Having been beaten down from last season, this wasn’t nearly enough to generate the kind of excitement that would have me counting down the days to kickoff, much less zipping down to Wofford to get an early look at the team my PSL’s pay for…

So, with the lockout ended, and a new collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners, a new season beckons. And the one thing I truly, truly, want is –


A reason to care.

A reason to look forward to Sundays, to look forward to committing an entire morning and afternoon of my life at Bank of America Stadium. A reason to consider a televised away game to be regarded as an event not to be missed. Never mind the wins and losses, I want to see MY Panthers competitive. To play with a chip on their shoulder. To play like they care. I want to be able to forget the “F YOU” season of last year, where Uncle Jerry said “F YOU “ to Fox, who said “F YOU” to Jerry, while both said “F YOU” to us, the fans.

To Mr. Richardson’s credit, he’s opened up his vault to pay the players most of us regard as most valuable.

The things I’m hearing coming out of Ron Rivera’s first Camp Wofford are most encouraging, from Cam’s Peppers-like athletic freakishness, to Steve Smith’s 180 degree turnaround. I am also most excited about the improvement of a young man that could be a game-breaker for us, one Armanti Edwards. Now that I know more about the rank contentiousness of the Richardson-Fox relationship of last year, I’m convinced that the entire draft class of 2010 was summarily under-coached by lame-o-duckie Coach Fox, INCLUDING Jimmy Claussen. And speaking of coaching, I’ve got a very positive vibe about this staff that Coach Rivera has assembled. This is a staff that promises to be aggressive on both offense and defense, with frequent blitzing and extensive use of the tight end. For me, it sounds like a recipe for excitement, if not success. Of course, time will tell if we’ve got the right folks here to end the sucky-ness and mediocrity that had become John Fox’s legacy, and to return to the championships that spoiled us years ago. And, still, I’m sad to see Fox’ legacy with us to be that mediocrity, instead of those glorious seasons of victory. I do wish him well in Denver.

But one thing’s for certain – this isn’t status quo. Which is good enough for right now to give me –

A reason to care. And I hope that it’s given you all a reason to care. A reason to come to the lot and get fired up, to catch a buzz on the concoction your Miss December PantherFanz and I are developing for your tailgating pleasure. A reason to click on the website and read my rants and look at the pictures and plan your Sundays around the party in the Cedar Street Lot.

The preseason is here. NFL football is back. The next four months could be the best of the year for us. And right now, I care. I’m excited. Show me sumphin’, Coach Ron! Show me sumphin’, Cam! Show me, Panthers, that last year was a sick aberration! I’ll be there.

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09 August, 2011


August 9th, 2011

When the IPMS Nationals in Nebraska became undoable for me two weeks ago, I jumped on Dano’s invitation to the Professional Football Ultimate Fan Association’s annual Reunion at Canton for the NFL’s Hall of Fame weekend.

I had no ideal what I had in store.

So, I will attempt to write a thorough but readable travelogue for those of you who are curious about PFUFA. Never mind that this is my first blog entry since last November – I’ll detail THAT debacle when I write my first official rant of the brand-spankin’ new season – This is a joy to write about –

I was vaguely aware that Coach Dano likes to start his days REALLY early, so I obliged his rendezvous hour of 7.00AM at the DanoDigs on Thursday morning complete with bag full of Pantherwear, and my golf clubs. Upon pulling up to our Phat Cat Patrick’s house, and finding it UNLIT at 7.03, Dano utters,

“Oh, this ain’t good…”

Evidentially, Patrick didn’t get the memo about the 7.00 dustoff - So, the ever gracious Renada fixes us some delightful French Vanilla to sip on while Murray assembles his travel necessities. And by 7.30 your Cedar Street Seer, Coach Dano, Cousin Joey, and Patrick pile into Dano’s massive Tundra, with Joker Smoker in tow, and after a thoroughly depressing conversation about hackneyed incompetent contractors, at last, the conversation turned to FOOTBALL, and much exaggerated sexual adventures that were more fabrication than fact. Before we knew it, we arrived in Dover, right outside of Canton, OH at a smallish Comfort Inn, and already, football fans from around the country were arriving. Interestingly enough, Jeff the PantherMan was the first to meet us, along with Mikey the Jets fan, and the MASSIVE Sasquatch, the Browns Fan, who, I swear, could probably body slam Jordan Gross. Or Jordan Castens, or any of his largest hogs. We quickly checked in, and began setting up the PantherFanz official PFUFA tailgate site in a piece of choice real estate in a large grassy lot to the rear of the hotel. Directly to the left of us in the accompanying “Boardwalk” position? Our beloved Ravens Flock, complete with stalwarts Captain Defense, Fired Up, Poetic Justice, Dee-Ciple and Purple Dame, to name JUST a few. A very cool addition was Greg’s INCREDIBLE tricked out ’52 Buick beautifully restored in purple and black Ravens colours with some very appropriate decaling. Of course, the four tires were kept from the ground by four well-placed Terrible Towels – hehehehehehe… The hospitality suite, a mere ten yards away, was VERY well stocked with premium beers and sodas for the non-partakers, and before we knew it, we had a nice buzz as we watched group after group of the NFL’s most hardy and enthusiastic fans set up their tailgating tents.

And, as I watched, a surreal image materialized, one that warmed and amazed me. The Redskins, setting up a tent next to the Eagles. THE EAGLES, for God’s sake!!! The Raiders, setting up a tent next to the Titans, who are bonding with Colts fans! The Bengals, parking their “WHO DEY” Bengal Bomb Bus RIGHT NEXT TO Old Man Jay’s BROWNS bus! And next to the Browns’ bus? The limo of the most hated BRONCOS! Our other closest neighbor? Division rival Saints, who came well represented with the Pope and his entourage. And there was nary any hint of belligerence, of anxiety about a fierce rival fan’s hostile smack. Why – it was …. Fellowship! Honest, genuine JOY and LOVE for one another, and the game we love – EVEN WITH EAGLE FANS!!! It felt like the UN of the NFL – better than that – it’s as if someone poured a bunch of Kickaboo Happy Joy-joy juice in the water system of Babylon 5! The league was not as well – represented as I thought it would have been, but here’s the roll call of teams represented at this reunion-

From the AFC East, the Bills represented, with a pair of Jets fans. Strangely enough, no Pastry-Rots, no Dolphins. From the AFC North, the Ravens, Browns and Bengals were VERY well represented. From the AFC South, the Texans, Titans and Colts represented well. From the AFC West, a smattering of Raider and Broncoid fans did proud. The NFC East had Redskins and Eagles. NO COWBOYS, NO GIANTS. The NFC North had a few Packers, a few Bears, and of course, all of the Yooper Lions. The NFC West had MAJOR representing with the Rams, a couple of SeaHawks, and ONE Niner fan. The ONLY division to have all four teams STRONGLY represented was of course, our very own NFC South, with us PantherFanz, the Saints, the Bucs, and the Fanbulance crew from Hotlanta. We found out very quickly that the Pissburgh Squeeler fans were not present, and were not wanted, and most everyone was glad of that. Amazing, that group was the lone exception from the circle of love generally felt between everyone else., as tales of hostile, arrogant behavior at the hands of these animals pretty much precluded membership into this organization. At Coach Dano’s insistence, I came in character – and introduced these fans to your Cedar Street Seer. And we bonded. Instantly. We put our buzz on hold to venture to a popular Amish restaurant with the rest of the fans, and amazingly enough, some thirty –odd fans, all in jerseys and identifying colours, were seated immediately.

Now, let me digress for a moment.

I want to briefly touch on the landscape of this part of Ohio I’ve never ventured in. From the big bridge that spans the Ohio River crossing from West By-God-Virginia, the landscape in Northeastern Ohio RARELY changes from it’s rolling, pastoral, rural beauty that is lush, green, well grown, and OLD. Ohio, which fought for the Union in the Civil war, did not bear the intense devastation our Dixieland suffered. Many of the farm buildings, homes and other structures have been there for a very long time, and many of them are relatively well- kept. There is no traffic to speak of on the part of I-77 that I’ve never travelled on, and this continued as we made our way to and from the idyllic pastures populated by Amish and Buckeyes alike.
So, after a FANTASTIC home-cooked dinner, Amish style, (and a few really trite comments about a buck-an-ear for corn on the cob with the Tampa fans) we come back to the hotel tailgate site to kick the buzz back on with a lot of help from some Czechoslovakian Truth Serum, and more bonding with, as Dano put it, with 50 of my new best friends. Regrettably, we had to stop the party, for us at least, so we could get a bit of sleep before the first PFUFA golf tournament in the morning.

In the meantime –

The Detroit Lion fans had arrived as we went lights out –
And not any garden variety Lion fans –


Now, if you’re not familiar with what a Yooper is, it’s the bastardization of “Upper Peninsula Inhabitor” from the Upper Peninsula of the Great State of Michigan. It is a species of redneck I’ve never met before. They are all MASSIVE men, with MASSIVE beer bellies, and MASSIVE appetites for life, meat, and LIQUOR! I was totally intrigued by them. One of them, the YooperMan, was a damned dead ringer for a very dearly departed friend of mine, the Big Woo himself. Yooper John, who turned me on to a couple of choice stogies, one of them a CUBAN, looked like a blown-up Dave Hodge! And yet another Yooper John was even BIGGER than the Brown’s Sasquatch! When Dano awoke at 5.30 to start the smoker, the Yoopers that had arrived around midnight were STILL awake, STILL drinking, and had just lost Joe Texan to a bottle of Crown Royal. When Dano asked if they had gotten any sleep, the infamous CrackMan replied “Sleeps for when you’re dead! We’ve got golf to play!!!” So, no shower, up an-at-em, and in the lobby with the rest of the golf playing PFUFA’ers, we make our way to the golf course, (located in of all places, Sleepy Hollow Drive…oooooo….) and as luck would have it, the four PantherFanz got to be a foursome. We were all roused by The CrackMan’s inspirational pre-round “prayer” that was half John Blutarsky, and half Jessie Jackson. Cousin Joey provided some early entertainment as the big boy swung again and again at his ball on the first tee, whiffing about five times.

A hangover isn’t good for golf, friends.

To our major annoyance, we found that some goober spread MARSHMALLOWS all over EVERY FAIRWAY on the course – later, we found out that the guilty party was that crazy Yooper, the CrackMan! Ahhh, those goofy fookin’ YOOPERS! Thankfully, the marshmallows, nor the numerous mushrooms sprouting out of the juicy ground, weren’t a hindrance to our game. Dano, without a round played in ten years, amazingly launched ball after ball off the tee 250 yards or more! And your Cedar Street Seer DOES have short game, as I holed a pair of birdies for Team PantherFanz to put us at a stellar -2 under for the round! Figures, that those mulligan-using Packer-Saint-Colt-PantherMan hackers won the round at -5 under! After another eye-pleasing cruise through Amish country, it was FINALLY in the shower to prepare for a BIG EVENING’s party – the official PFUFA Friday Night Tailgate Party!

Now, before you think that this reunion of fans is all one big bacchanal, let me tell you about one of the most important missions of this organization – In order to be a member, you MUST parlay your “fandom” into a charitable quest – for example, Danos’ desire to entertain the Wounded Warriors every season. The fans who come to their respective stadiums in costume are encouraged to attend children’s hospitals here, to brighten the day of seriously injured and burned kids. So, after the golf tourney, guys like King Ram, Fired Up, and WhoDey spent the afternoon cheering the young ‘uns before assisting the rest of us in the tailgate.

As the afternoon turned to evening, the setting sun was replaced by the MASSIVE inflatable Browns helmet erected by Mr. Sasquatch, incredibly, again, by the rival Bengals generator. And our tailgate party turned into the Tailgate County Fair. The smells of all of our respective favorites filled the air – The Raven’s crab boil, the PantherFanz Smoked Pork, the Saint’s frog legs and trout frying, the sizzle of Philly Cheese steaks from Stephanie EagleFanz grill, the fajitas from the Texan’s tent, the Yooper’s bacon-wrapped tenderloin, the Titan’s chili pot, and so on… As DJ Dano’s tunes intertwined with the aromas, the atmosphere became as festive as any of the top tailgates I’ve EVER attended! There simply was NO BAD FOOD at this party! The pork and brisket coming out of our JoKer Smoker had never been better! I had never had frog legs before and they were the whitest, sweetest, tastiest meat I’d ever had! The Raven’s seafood was incredible! I had a little bit of EVERYTHING here, and it looks like a little bit was WAY TOO MUCH as something happened to me that had never happened before…

I lost my buzz.

I was SO stuffed with tailgating goodies, I couldn’t maintain. I had to go to the room to “gas out”, and returned ready to get my buzz back. Never fear. Getting it back at THIS party was not going to be a problem as the Bengal Bomb Squad announced it was time for Bengal Bombs! Now, a Bengal Bomb is pretty much a Yager bomb, served in a special plastic cup-within-a –cup, with Orange Crush poured around it. It’s kind of like Chuck’s Jello-Shot toast at our tailgate party, except you say “WHOOOODEYYYYY” after the shot. Except, of course, I yelled “PANNNNTHERRRRS”. So my buzz quickly returned and I found room for some more trout and frog legs, and God knows what else. Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Pinto Ron’s little bar, erected between the Ravens and PantherFanz “pavilions”.

Speaking of a buzz.

If you don’t know who Pinto Ron is, you are unaware of one of the leagues’ TRULY legendary fans. Kenny, his REAL name, has NEVER MISSED a Buffalo Bills game in 277 games. He’s an averaged sized middle aged bespectacled man with a big, bushy beard full of graying whiskers and the ever-present #5 Bills jersey and hat. Opposed to the larger-than-life personalities that ordinarily populate the PFUFA’s ranks, he’s quite unassuming, and looks more like an eccentric professor than a passionate, rabid NFL fan. When it’s game time at Rich Stadium, he brings a DRIVABLE Ford Pinto that has been converted into an actual GRILL, as well as his bar, which serves not only Buffalo Bills Punch, but the infamous “Bowling Ball Shot”. One of the novelties of Kenny’s tailgate party is the Buffalo wings, fried up in an AUTHENTIC WWII steel helmet!

Well, let me say, that Pinto Ron’s bowling ball shot was quite popular through the weekend. How it’s applied is ritual. The 15-pound ball is placed on top of a roll of duct tape, and Kenny pours some 100-proof Polish cherry brandy into the large thumb hole. The shooter then grabs the ball, lifts it to his/or her mouth, and sucks it down, and then must DROP the ball onto the ground (with NO ROLL! VERY IMPORTANT!!) and then toots into a large plastic horn. A hilarious and entertaining series of mini-events, as the ball is cleaned shot after shot with sanitary wipes, and by the time everyone’s been served at Kenny’s bar, its BENGAL BOMB time again!!! In the meantime, Captain Defense and his creaky knees entertain all of the dancing women in front of the PantherFanz “dance floor”, and even Crazy Joe gets to show everyone his smooth moves, even after a few visits to Kenny’s bar, to the delight of ladies lucky enough to spin with him. When it’s CrackMan’s turn to hit the bowling ball, he drops trou and moons the group when he does his shot! A 50-50 raffle taken by PFUFA at the party raises 880.00 bucks! The winner is Fired Up’s brother, who amazingly, gives every cent of it to charity on the spot!!! Unfortunately, it’s an early morning yet again for everyone as the second largest parade in the country, the Canton Hall of Fame Parade, is set to go at 7.30, so everyone MUST be in COSTUME, in the lobby, at 6.00AM! We kill the last of the Bengal Bombs and the party extinguishes. So, at 1.30 in the morning after a WWE episode between Dano and Crazy Joe on the air mattress, and the flinging of dozens of honey-roasted peanuts before four really blasted PantherFanz from Charlotte go lights out. Ahhh, the utter delight of four testosterone poisoned goobers in the same hotel room! We’re really hoping to get our asses in jerseys and hard hats to the parade in the morning.

The PantherFanz don’t make it.

As a matter of fact, the PantherFanz don’t make it out of bed, until at 10.50. And massively hung over.

(Ok, disclaimer - Patrick Murray just gets blasted on life!!!)

We start to come back to life as we grill bacon and eggs at the PantherFanz tent, and CJ enjoys the destruction of his hangover with Dave Raven’s Bloody Marys and a few Mike’s. A few folks who also didn’t make the parade also rise and we begin to get ready for another evening of tailgating when we find out something really potentially catastrophic happened at the parade.

GoGoSaint, Candice, the president of PFUFA, was run over by a float.

I won’t go into the circumstances that led to this unfortunate accident, but the front tire of this particular float knocked GoGo down, and ran up her leg, and onto her back – it could not be lifted off, so it had to be rolled back off of her – OWWWWWWWWWWWCHHHHH!!!! Thankfully, Fired UP!, the Ravens fan who’s a retired fire chief, gave her the essential first aid needed, while the paramedics arrived to rush her to the hospital.

Now, this is the amazing part.

If God does not LOVE the Saints and their fans, I don’t think you’d find better proof to the contrary.

Candice suffered no broken bones of any kind. At least, I think God loves THIS particular Saints fan. Even if she’s married to Darth Packer.

Candice the GoGoSaint was sent back to the hotel from the hospital, in time to preside over the all-important meeting, approving the enrollment of the 15 new prospective members of PFUFA. Evidentially, it’s difficult to get in. They just don’t take anyone. You have to have a clean record, have a documented history of charitable actions, and of course, be a HUGE fan. To everyone’s amazement, EVERY applicant got in, including our buddy the Fanbulance driver, Fired Up, Raider Jerry, AND –

After all these years,
Pinto Ron.

But perhaps the most unusual new member was Ezra, the self proclaimed “Pancho Billa” who is most likely the ONLY Buffalo Bills fan from El Paso, Texas. And perhaps, the only Mexican MORMON from El Paso Texas that’s a Buffalo Bills fan. Resplendent in his old school Bills livery, sombrero, and Nacho Billa wrasslin’ mask, he’s quite a character.

So, with a tragedy avoided, a celebration is about to begin for those not attending the NFL HOF acceptance speeches by Richard Dent, Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders, et.al. , and we begin the tailgate once again – and what we had escaped the night before came with a vengeance –

A downpour.

A party-killin’ downpour. The Tailgating County Fair is dismantled by most of the fans, except the Browns, Ravens, and of course, PantherFanz. But not before some more choice food is consumed by those who braved the downpour. I guess it’s a good thing that we got rained out, because YET ANOTHER early morning awaited us, as we had a 8.30 breakfast and acceptance ceremony at the actual NFL Hall of Fame up the road at Canton. And of course, all 15 new members had to BE IN COSTUME. For Pinto Ron, no problem. For guys like Raider Jerry, who looks like a cross between Darth Maul and a SWAT officer, to INFERNO, the Titans fan who looks like a Batman villain (my personal favorite costume), I would suppose they would have to get up pretty dang early. The breakfast buffet was quite hearty and delicious and appropriate for the setting, and was a perfect precursor of what was to come. After some fine oration by the leadership, including GoGo Candice, sore, but standing, we were treated to the acceptance speeches of all 15 new members, timed by Captain Defense at our table up front. Speakers were obliged to toss a buck into a bowl for every minute spent at the podium, which would be contributed, of course, to charity.

Now, this is where the true nature of the organization manifests itself. With few exceptions, every speaker has an emotional story to tell, of relationships with fathers, brothers, and other loved ones who had passed their love of football, of others, and of Jesus onto them. Most spoke tearfully of the causes that are dear to their hearts that their fandom had the good fortune to support. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house as Raider Jerry spoke of his terminally ill wife, who encouraged him to come to Canton for his acceptance into PFUFA. She was proudly at his table, watching as he broke down, and the rest of us wiped tearing eyes. This is a group that LOVES its football with an unbridled passion, but has the same passion for those things that REALLY matter. Family. God. The Community. Many love the party too, yet many are teetotalers as well. As the official part of the program wound down, I realized how honorable membership was in this group, how good of a dude Dan Ortel is, and how undeserving a guy like Crazy Joe is to be in this order of fans.

We then toured the actual Hall of Fame, which is a really great attraction if you’re a fan. It is a thorough chronological history of the game, from its humble beginnings in Ohio; to the national obsession we know it as today. You owe it to yourself to make the trip, at least once in your life. We then returned sadly to the hotel, packed the PantherFanz tailgate stuff back into the Tundra, and bid our goodbyes to the Ravens flock and the handful of other fans who made it back from Canton. But we were cheered, knowing that in a mere six days, the tailgate party would begin yet again for most of us, and the most exciting football season we’ve seen in years. After yet more lies and exaggerations of sexual adventures as we rolled down I-77, I began to think of our OWN tailgate party, and how the PFUFA experience could further enhance the ten or so events we plan every year. I think we will leave the Pinto Grills and bowling ball shots to Kenny and his Bills, but I think "Panther Bombs" might be a hell of an ideer...

I want to heartily thank Dano for the invite to this most special of annual events. It is a party with few equals that carries not only a football fan’s dream bacchanal, but the heart warming opportunity to do some actual good. As long as Dano and the rest of the PFUFA organization will have me, I am making it a point to commit this time of year to attending.

And I want to thank you, reader, for your interest in the blog.

And I want to announce –

The Cedar Street Seer is back.

You’ll see it in the next rant –

Gotta comment?
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