Let me start by saying I have a clear bias: I am from Charlotte and covered the Panthers at our local newspaper for a summer. I’ve had many interactions with most of the guys in that locker room, all of which have been positive. Hell, I’ve even met the whole Newton family, and just like Cam, they are always pleasant and smiling.
But I don’t think the Panthers are likable because I’m a homer, I think the Panthers are likable because they have the most fun of any team playing football. Just watch this video of Cam Newton mic’d up and you will see his true, genuine passion for the game:
The Panthers are the antithesis of the New England Patriots. While you’ll find nothing but cheating scandals in New England, the only “scandal” you’ll find in Charlotte is whether or not Cam Newton is dabbing too much after he scores. Seriously, a Tennessee mom mailed in a letter to the editor complaining about that. Cam eventually won her over.
While you’ll find Tom Brady bitching and complaining on the sidelines to his offensive line about protection schemes, you’ll find Cam Newton and the rest of the Panthers smiling and having a good time. It’s why The Guardian put out a column posing the question: Are the Panthers the most likable team of the last 30 years? I’ll do you one better. The Panthers are the most likable team, all time — in the history of sports.
The Panthers literally do everything right, but aren’t getting much respect outside of the Carolinas. The 10-0 Cardiac Cats opened as a two-point underdog to an abysmal 3-7 Dallas Cowboys team, marking only the second time an undefeated 10-win team has ever been a dog. That’s just the Panthers way, and when they routinely beat up on Greg Hardy, a former Panthers player, and NFL villain Jerry Jones while you eat your Thanksgiving turkey, they still won’t get the broadcast time allotted to Tom Brady and the Patriots. That’s just not how it works.
The crazy thing is this: On paper, the Panthers just aren’t that good. With a receiving corps full of practice squad guys, an OL filled with holes and a secondary that is patched together with scotch tape, there is no reason this team should be undefeated. Yet, here we are, in the last week of November, talking about Super Bowls.
If you had told me that superstar WR Kelvin Benjamin would miss the full season with an ACL injury, Luke Kuechly would miss three games with a concussion and Charles Johnson, who has flown himself to away games and bought tickets on his own dime, would miss valuable time on the defensive line, I would have prepared myself for a miserable season. Instead, it’s been an incredible one.
— charles johnson (@randywattson) November 15, 2015
I’m not saying the Panthers are the best team out there, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more likable group of guys than that team in Carolina. They are the Golden State Warriors of the NFL. Golden State, mind you, has a superstar of its own that is a Charlotte-native and the biggest celebrity Panthers fan out there, Steph Curry.
Even the Panthers social media team is having a phenomenal year of its own. Just look at this A+ troll job.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) November 22, 2015
Carolina isn’t going away, either. With a majority of these guys being young by NFL standards and recently signed to long-term extensions by the Panthers, I’d say a dynasty could be brewing in Charlotte. We accept all bandwagon fans, so make sure to hop on board now. I promise you won’t regret it..
Image via YouTube