26 December, 2011


I’ve been looking at a blank screen for about 5 minutes now, trying to recover the overflow of thoughts, impressions, and feelings I had, not only as a Panther Fan, but as someone called to replace a legend, as I’m trying to rant about what we saw from our Panthers on Saturday, Christmas Eve. All of the tired old adjectives and metaphors about Christmas presents, giant monsters with cool superpowers, and other hokey notions, I have been rejecting. I found myself coming again and again to someone I’ve thought a lot about lately –

I found myself thinking about Marc “the JoKer” Stanton, who wrote about the team AND our party from a vastly entertaining and wholly different angle for years before The Cedar Street Seer took the keyboard. One of the highlights of my gameday week was to read about Marc’s view of the game, or the game that was upcoming. And of course, a larger than life presence at our now league-famous party, thanks to the tireless work of Dano, James, and all of the rest of you who picked up the club, who show up early on Sunday mornings to make a pregame experience that’s second to none. I would imagine many of you who regularly read the “Rantz of the Week” know who I’m talking about. And with the holidays in full swing, I thought, in a Dickesonian way, the ghosts of Panthers past, present, and Panthers Yet To Come and how in not a dreadful sort of way, but in a melancholy, yet warmly sentimental way, he personifies the spirit of PantherFandom.

Yes, I thought a lot about Marc the past week or so. I thought about the inconcievable sadness we felt on that tailgate morning, back in December 2006, trying to carry on, and the five year anniversary of that tradgedy. I thought about the family he left behind, and how his Pantherfanz family rallied for them. I thought about the dubious task I had in succeeding his website “voice”. But most of all, I thought about the pure, honest PASSION Marc had for these Carolina Panthers. I thought about how savagely he critized the team when we sucked, and how fired up he got when things were going great. I took a moment at our last tailgate party of the year, and reflected on the vibe that I felt, the anticipation of not just a good game, but a GREAT game to send us off into the offseason, full of anticipation for greatness to come. And I appreciated the stark contrast, five years later, that THIS tailgate party, even without Dano and his thundering sound system, and his boisterous entrites to get us fired up, was a joyous celebration of the passion we all shared with Marc. I saw Marc’s Jeep parked in the spot he always had on gameday, the rear door opened, and a familiar archaic olive drab device beckoned to me. I picked up Marc’s old hand-operated WWII air raid siren that Brian thought enough of to bring, and let ‘er rip – and, you know –

It almost felt like Marc’s hand grabbed mine from the eternal beyond, and enthusiatically gave me extra assistance in blowing out the eardrums of Rusty, one of our Korean War veteran guests. It felt good (but not the part about giving you discomfort, Rusty, sorry dude!). And among our many party participants, the mood was one of tingling anticipation, that this would be a game to remember as the familiar whine reverberated through our tailgate party. I know that I personally, had no doubt about the outcome, only by how much we would thump this dissappointingly underachieving Bucs team, a team that was still very much our rival when Marc would write about the highly entertaining contests the two teams would have twice a year. Only now, I really haven’t thought of them so much as a rival, not as I would view the Saints or Duckies.

I would be hard-pressed, I think, to find any of you out there who would really care about that notion.

But all of these things did I bring to the forefront of my mind as what seemed to be an endless supply of homemade hooch in Mason jars found its way to my lips on that near perfect December football morning…

I truly apologize for being so maudlin on what is supposed to be a victorious “rant”; only I have nothing to rant about. It should be a RAVE – only once has this Panthers team scored more points than this – a 52 point obliteration of the Bungles back in 2002. But it’s a reserved rave. We really had no expectations coming in the season. The focus of the media is on all of the playoff participants, and it sucks to be out of that party, once again. A big win is a nice diversion from the unpleasantries of life as it is, but when the game has gone into last weeks’ fading storylines, we are once again reunited with what torments us.

But ohhhh, what we saw on Saturday! But for a legitimate defense, would we have been in that conversation! And if we are to truly be worthy of the providence of what could be in the years to come, we could see this point total in MANY games! What, I ask of you readers, who dare to dream, who shared Marc’s passion, could you see, even for next year? And unlike Scrooge’s fear of that ghost of Things to Come, THIS Panthers of The Future is gladly welcomed, and could bring for 2012 –

-Three or more primetime games, with the pregame parties of the century?
-More record setting performances by an offense that’s only NOW starting to realize its scoring prowess?
-A bona fide HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE, where the league can least expect a road win?
-A stadium bowl devoid of the fans of the other teams, as the home fans throw their support to the Panthers, at last?
-A playoff appearance, and a shot at a return to The Super Bowl?

Ohhhhh, all of this and MORE! What might be lost on the average fan is that opposed to the incredible yardage Cam threw in the first few games of the season, he threw a simply efficient 172 yards! Most of our yardage came on rushing plays, and half our touchdowns were made on the ground! With a defense to go with this powerful attack, there is no NFL team we cannot just beat, but blow out, week after week!

And, at last, the maturation of the PantherFans in Bank of America Stadium was realized, when the Wave was started in earnest, when the VISITOR had the ball! I would just ask that all of you stay long enough for the playing of “Sweet Caroline” to really make the gameday experience complete. You know you want to go “BomBomBom” when the good times feel so good – Which is what I’m forcasting in the short, and long term future of the team.

And how good it will be for me, as part of Marc Stanton’s legacy, to be able to pound out not rant after rant, but RAVE after RAVE when the dwindling trickle of Squeelers, Packers, Cowboys, Eagles, Giants and Duckies fans leave our stadium having had their teams’ fannies beat while we vociferously exclaim our victory as they once did here. If the performance we saw on Christmas Eve is an indication, the legacy left by Marc 5 years ago is in very, very good hands. I thank you all for your readership, and most of all, for living IN that legacy, whether you knew Marc or not….

This has turned out to be much a different report than I had anticipated when I left the Stadium with my sobbing daughter, but yet, a joy.

One more game before the season, for us, fades into the dusty archives of yesteryear. A happy holiday and safe and healthy new year to you all.

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Email me, a melancholy Cedar Street Seer

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