27 October, 2008


October 27th, 2008

When I woke up Sunday morning, I was flush with anticipation. I just KNEW this was going to be a happy, awesome day after the joy of the previous day’s sight of my beloved Tar Heels ripping Boston College, and even the joy of seeing the Big Ten’s evil empire of SLO-hio State crushed by Penn State. The air was crisp, but not uncomfortably so. The lot was starting to buzz, and sure enough, Commissioner Cahn showed up to give the PantherFanz party his blessing. A surprise visit by future standout WR Jason Carter and Decori “Cori” Birmingham was mighty cool, too. I hope them two fellas left our lot feelin’ good about the fan base. What surprised me, somewhat, was the lack of noise and energy in the lot by the time noon came around, with the greatest commotion being caused by our Miss October PantherFanz Laura when she did the 50/50 drawing. Even yours truly pleading over the megaphone couldn’t muster up the roar I felt necessary to pluck the Cardy-noles. And this wasn’t my imagination, y’all. As Brain and I and our PantherFanz convoy of Julie and Bud and Ron followed us into the South Gate, the lack of energy and noise was palpable. I could no longer take it. I started raising hell going into the security check points, with the workers joining me in my loud support for the team.

As the defensive players were announced, I became cognizant of the differing levels of cheer for various players. Charles Godfrey barely registered a faint roar, while the ovation for Julius Peppers probably registered on the Richter scale. I’d feel slighted, if I was Charles, and some of the other players on this terrific squad who deserve equal volume. And as the game unfolded, I still felt a serious lack of energy in the stands! And sure enough, it spilled onto the offensive plays of the Panthers in that first half – We could not move the ball on the ground, or the pass, while the defense had its hands full with the Cardy-noles potent offense. Despite increased blitzing and pressure, Kurt Warner was able to get enough passes off to keep drives going. Never mind I counted THREE, at least, incidences of HOLDING on Peppers that were never called! ( I guess all of the momentum tackles out of bounds that weren’t called balanced that out ) And to make the situation even stranger, was the malfunction of the scoreboards and time keeping equipment! All sorts of bizarre karma began to flood in. Was this going to be the start of a trend in our season? One great game, followed by a turd of a game, followed by another great game, followed by a turd, you get the ideal? Were we cursed to be teased like all of the other unfortunate schmo fans of the other bottom feeder teams in the league? Finally, a John Kasay field goal near the end of the half cut the lead to 10-3 in favour of our visitors from the Copper State. I still felt the strange lack of synergy – it was going to be really important for SOMETHING to pull that metaphysical switch that’s so vital to our team’s success. After another impressive drive by the Cards made it a 17-3 game early in the third quarter, it happened.

That offensive play that Miami is making trendy this year, “The Wildcat”, was put to use by the team that started it two seasons ago at Atlanta, with the same fulcrum point, DeAngelo Williams. Consecutive plays gained some thirty odd yards, and then, the running game gave us our first points- DeAngelo took a more traditional handoff 18 yards into the endzone, and the October 27, 2008 Bank of America Energy Crisis began to turn around as the stadium, AND the malfunctioning scoreboard, ROARED back to life! Score NOW at 17-10, and we were back in the game, and then, it was the defense’s turn! Maake Kemoeautu stripped the ball from Edgerin James’ grasp as Thomas Davis made the recovery DEEP in Cardy-nole territory in the very next series! Next play, touchdown pass to Smitty, tie score, and the Energy Crisis was abated.

All kinds of feelings of relief and joy spread through the stadium as the Panthers began to control the game. And interestingly enough, the plays called were not so much the Foxball I remember. I think as the season goes on, it seems to me that Jeff Davidson is being given more latitude in the play calling, as it appears to be more and more creative. However, the challenge from the very inspired Cardy-noles was not finished – Warner drove his team down the field for a go-ahead touchdown – BUT!!! The odd karma of the first half seemed to totally swing to The Panthers as they BOTCHED THE EXTRA POINT ATTEMPT! On the next series, you all saw the awesome TD to Smith that put us ahead for good. The Energy Crisis became the Energy Surplus as the crowd, still in their seats, began to attain indigent life form status –

I’m fixing to digress into a really geeky allusion that only Marc could understand. Well, maybe Brain could. And most of you Microsoft dudes. In Star Trek, The Motion Picture, a collection of mechanical intelligence attains a kind of consciousness that Mr. Spock acknowledges as a child at birth, just learning its’ way. I wasn’t thinking of that as the crowd INEXPLICABLY DOES THE F**^_(*^$%#*&%@+ING WAVE while the DAMN OFFENSE IS ON THE FIELD!!! Is it possible that our collective fanbase is still in the infancy throes? One that obviously COULDN’T READ – even as the message board IMPLORED FOR QUIET!!??? I’ve never been so enraged at our fans- our offense was going down the field, gashing the Cardy-nole defense in huge yardage chunks, and I felt the distraction was going to affect the offensive performance. Sure enough, we had to settle for a Kasay field goal. WHAT THE HELL WERE THE CONSESSIONAIRES SERVING!!?? Extra DUMBASS with the nachos? Did Dominos’ include MORON in the pizza toppings???!! COME ON, PANTHERFANS!!! And note I didn’t say PantherFANZ- we’re far too advanced and savy to fall for that. So, at that moment, our chances for victory were being buffeted much like the mechanical intelligence buffeted the Starship Enterprise. In the movie, Dr. McCoy suggested that “The Child” was having a “Temper Tantrum”, and that we “spank it!”! I sure felt like spanking our childish crowd. So, our Energy Crisis became an Energy Surplus, and then morphed into the crowd as an ENERGY EXCESS.

Thankfully, the excess energy seemed to channel into the defense, which now began to assert itself on the line, and in the secondary. Warner began to throw his passes erratically, missing his receivers, and badly. The last scoring threat of the Cardy-noles ended up in the arms of Jon BEASTon, and that was the end of Arid-zona for this day. How joyous it was to see THIS offense, OUR offense, grind the clock out for the final five minutes with punishing running by DeAngelo, and crisp passing by Jake. Three HUGE first downs did it, and how about that?

We’re 6-2 at the midway point of the season. If we do that again in the second half of the season, that makes us 12-4, you can do the math, and you know the result of that kind of record. Now, having watched this game and other games that have been played this year so far, I have made this observation, and I’m certain many of y’all who really appreciate the game have made the same observation.

The Arizona Cardinals are good. Really good. They have a terrific offense, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a receiver like Larry Fitzgerald. Come on, you gotta admit you were impressed by the way he caught Warner’s missiles. As a matter of fact, Arizona has an outstanding corps of receivers. I promise you, they will be a factor in the postseason. They do have to learn how to win on the road, and they came close yesterday, but what overshadows that for me is another observation-

The Panthers are learning how to come from behind and win. On the road, and at home. We’ve done it three times this year, y’all! The opener in Sad Diego, at home against DaBears, and yesterday! The maturation of this team is a pleasure to experience, and I no longer have any doubt that this team will make us happy this year. The stink of last season is long gone, and great days are ahead of us as long as the injury bug is sufficiently kept at bay. Arizona and New Orleans are the best offenses we will face this season – and we handled them. Who’s left? The Duckies maybe? Beaten them already. Packers? Don’t think so. Broncoids? Fading. Bucs and Saints? Done ‘em. The G-men may be a challenge, but all of a sudden, with the season half over, nothing seems impossible for the Carolina Panthers. This has been the best start since the ’03 season, I’m sure y’all agree. Instead of a rollercoaster ride, this has been, well, to use the StarTrek metaphor –


So, as the Starship Panther collects supplies and refuels for the conclusion of this mission in two weeks, we await for Admiral Jerry to turn to Captain Fox and summon the order-


This is gonna be special. I’m thrilled to be taking this ride with you, The PantherFanZ tribe…

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