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Some people are fans of the Carolina Panthers. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Carolina Panthers. This 2017 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.

Your team: Carolina Panthers.

Your 2016 record: 6-10. Hey, who would have guessed a team coached by Ron Rivera and dependent on its QB for 99 percent of its yardage would IMMEDIATELY regress back to the mean after a fluke 15-1 season? I could’ve made more money betting on that than betting on Mayweather.

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As you may recall, the Panthers’ Week 1 rematch with Denver was somehow a more brutal loss than Super Bowl 50, and marked the beginning of a procession of vicious Cam Newton headshots that plays like a police misconduct showreel. Cam doesn’t even remember that first game. And remember when he got speared in the head against Washington and they ended up penalizing HIM on the play? That was fun. As a matter of fact, the 2016 Panthers are probably our greatest historic case study for football not existing at all. Look at Luke Kuechly, crying and disoriented after sustaining a potentially lethal concussion…

What do you even say, man? Dour prickface Jerry Richardson is raking in paper sending these poor guys out there to get killed. I am not exactly thrilled to watch it happen all over again.

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On the lighter side of failure, I don’t have the exact numbers on me but I’m quite sure this is the only team that Roberto Aguayo made a field goal against. They also cut Bene’ Benwikere after Julio Jones racked up 300 yards receiving against them. Good job letting Josh Norman walk. You fucking morons. The season-long fiasco resulted in the firing of GM Dave Gettleman, who then had his ass set on fire by every Panther he ever shoved out the door:

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Your coach: Glorified Best Buy manager Ron Rivera. Remember when he benched Cam for not wearing a tie? WHAT BOLDNESS. It takes real guts to submarine an entire game by trotting Derek Anderson out there because you know the owner will make frowny faces at any player rocking a fucking turtleneck.

Your quarterback: Cam Newton.

At this point, I have no choice but to believe the Panthers are actively trying to kill their own quarterback. How else to explain leaving him in the game after shots like this, and with a shoulder that would later need offseason surgery? Or paying Matt Kalil—MATT FUCKING KALIL—$25 million to protect his blindside? Do you know how insane that signing is? I’m not just saying that because I’m a bitter Vikings fan and watched Kalil play toll booth attendant to every defensive end in the league for the past four seasons. No no, the rest of league was also well aware of Kalil’s physical and mental fragility, and the Panthers still opened the vault for him anyway. Cam should retire and spend the rest of his days wearing paisley romp-hims at Coachella.

By the way, Cam still has no idea how to hold a press conference without looking like someone stole his lunch out of the office fridge. And I’d still like an explanation for this shit…

Why can’t he use normal letters? What poor assistant does he force to pound out Instagram captions in fucking wingdings? Only Prince was allowed to do this kind of shit. That 15-1 season? That was Cam’s one shot. He’s 8-8 from here on out.

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What’s new that sucks: Everything new about this team is old. They brought back Julius Peppers for a farewell tour and, in a completely bonkers move, decided to replace Gettleman with former GM Marty Hurney. The whole reason they hired Gettleman was to get them out of the cap hell that Hurney put them in to begin with! What in the teal fuck is going on here?

Hurney’s re-emergence coincides nicely with the Panthers’ resurrected belief that they can protect Cam and win more games simply by employing 7,000,000 running backs. They drafted Christian McCaffrey and—well now, this will STUN YOU—but his jersey is already listed at the top of the Top Sellers category on the team’s NFL Shop page. WHO COULD HAVE GUESSED? These fucking fans. By Week 10, they’ll want him starting at quarterback.

As someone who bore witness to Toby Gerhart’s pro career, you’ll excuse me if I’m not a big believer in white running backs from Stanford who get a token invite to the Heisman ceremony. There’s also something hilarious about this team drafting a multipurpose back and then entrusting him to Mike Shula. That’s like handing a Porsche to a dog. The next time a Panthers wideout or back goes in motion will the first time. Poor Lil’ Caff is gonna get sent out into the flat 40 times a game. Really gives the safety a nice target to launch at, you know?

Kony Ealy is a Patriot. Kelvin Benjamin is fat now.

What has always sucked: There’s a certain cruelty in the fact that Charlotte is both North Carolina’s largest city and also, by far, the boringest town in that state. Asheville is Austin with a more reasonable climate. Wilmington is gorgeous. The Research Triangle is a fucking blast. Charlotte is a bank branch someone made into a whole city, presided over by Richardson and his anodyne football team.

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As long as Newton remains the centerpiece of the Panthers, he will be emblematic of the culture war raging inside this state. He is a cool and wondrous player who is, virtually every waking moment, subjected to beatings both physical and verbal, from opponents and from the deranged yokel factions of this fanbase that demand Cam Newton be anyone other than Cam Newton.

It will always be this way. Always. Every goddamn year, I’m gonna have to hear about how Cam has to change his style of play, or why Cam can’t take winning in stride, or why Cam shouldn’t have worn those seersucker shorts to the podium. There will always be a section of this fanbase that roots for Cam reluctantly, like they’re biting their tongues at the Thanksgiving dinner table. And all that all subdued hostility stems directly from Richardson, a sullen pig who made his money fattening up Americans and strong-arming anyone who asked him to pay them fairly. I’ll never get over this old story he told, with gushing pride, to Charlie Rose:

Richardson, who said that Newton “was dressed perfectly” for their meeting, was blunt. “I said, ‘Do you have any tattoos?’” Richardson told Rose. “He said, ‘No, sir. I don’t have any.’ I said, ‘Do you have any piercings?’ He said, ‘No, sir. I don’t have any.’ I said, ‘We want to keep it that way.’ . . . .

“We want to keep no tattoos, no piercings, and I think you’ve got a very nice haircut.”

Interjected the host: “You sound like a Lombardi.”

Said Richardson, “No, I just sound reasonable to me.”

Get fucked, old man. Everything good about this team will be at his mercy until he finally drops dead, just as all the cool things about North Carolina are at the constant mercy of dipshit rednecks that hate queers in the shitter and blacks at quarterback. This is just all so EXHAUSTING. Maybe the Panthers should take some time off and come back after Richardson is gone and his statue has been melted down to scrap metal and the team has moved.

Also, the wideouts are still puke.

Did you know? Rae Carruth is due to get out of prison next year. Given this team’s penchant for retreads, they’ll probably bring him on as wideout coach.

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What might not suck: Cam could be lanced by an oncoming horseman and still be good for at least one rushing TD a game. Really the only way to keep NFL QBs healthy is to clone 32 Cams.

HEAR IT FROM PANTHERS FANS!

Miles:

Fuck Jerry Richardson with a thickburger.

Andy:

Our geriatric owner, who engineered the 2011 lockout that was wholly based on the owners wanting to fuck over the players, fired the GM that won 3 division titles in 4 years, engineering a team that came within a whisker of starting 18-0. The reason? Basically because he was too Belichickian with the players. Because who wants to emulate the most successful coach in football history, right?

Mitch:

The Panthers have made it to two Super Bowls and once won three straight division titles. We have yet to have back-to-back winning seasons.

Stanford:

I hated Michael Oher so much for being as useful as a sack of potatoes in the Super Bowl, I had no idea he only played in three games last year. Thank God he’s gone now.

Fucking LaVar Ball played for this team.

Fuck Sir Purr.

John:

They let Steve Smith walk, sign RB’s like they’re going to resurrect the Oklahoma wishbone, then send out Cam Newton again with zero offensive help and expect him to put the rest of the offensive unit on his shoulders, only to watch him get his skull beat in while Roger Goddell smugly smiles in watching the destruction of another black quarterback.

What do they do to improve the situation? Why, more running backs, of course! They draft Christian McCaffery and some guy from West Georgia (that I know the school and not his name should speak volumes).

To top it all off, our shitbag owner has the nuts to jam the city of Charlotte for $75 million in stadium improvements, with a team option to fleece another $50 million from the city in the future, and we’re still left with a field that looks like grandpa’s farm in Nebraska. Then, Richardson tries to redeem himself by firing his GM (who deserved it), but replace him with a guy who’s only highlight on his GM resume is bathing Bobby Bethard’s nutsack with baby wipes.

Fuck me and fuck Mike Shula with Usher’s cock.

Alex:

This offseason the Panthers lost their team President, defensive coordinator, assistant General Manager, and fired their general manager, Dave Gettleman. What did the general manager do to get unceremoniously shit-canned? Only be the architect of the most successful four years in franchise history. A 40-23-1 overall record, three consecutive division titles, four playoff wins, a NFC championship title and a Super Bowl appearance. Panthers owner Jerry Richardson fired him for being too mean to players when making the correct football decisions he was hired to make. They replaced Gettleman with the previous GM who overpaid everyone. Enjoy those remaining 6-10 and 7-9 seasons while you can Jerry, at least those veterans will be happy to cash your bloated checks.

At least they have managed to keep their offensive coordinator, who thought it would be a good idea to have Cam Newton constantly take 5 to 7 step drops behind an o-line that couldn’t play in the CFL. This organization is less functional than Trump’s White House.

Morgan:

I’ll never get over Super Bowl 50.

Also, fuck Mike Remmers.

Alex:

We fired Dave Gettleman, who dug us out of a cap nightmare caused by Marty Hurney, only to name Hurney the interim GM. Don’t be surprised when we pay Fozzy Whitaker like he’s Emmitt Smith.

Jeffrey:

They re-hired Marty Hurney.

Stehpen:

In 2012 Mr. Richardson (yes, that’s what we call him) fired 10-year general manager Marty Hurney, who’d gotten the Panthers into a salary cap mess by setting veterans’ pay based on what they had already done rather than what they were likely to keep doing. He hired longtime Giants pro personnel director and senior pro personnel analyst Dave Gettleman at the beginning of 2013. Gettleman cut dead weight; drafted big, strong linemen (whom he called “hog mollies”) on both sides of the ball; drove a hard bargain with players on the roster; and built a team that won three straight NFC South titles and made it to a Super Bowl.

In 2016 Gettleman let star cornerback Josh Norman walk rather than pay him big-time money and the Panthers started a pair of rookies at DB, along with Tre Boston at safety, whose college highlight reel consisted of chasing a bevy of ACC receivers into the end zone and whose calling card is never wrapping up on a tackle. He just rolls into ball carriers really hard.

When our starting LT and all-pro MLB are lost for the season to concussions, the snake-bitten Panthers limp to a 6-10 finish. It later comes out that team let Cam Newton play the last several games of the season with a throwing shoulder injury that required offseason surgery.

So yeah, July 17 of this year seems like a good time to fire the GM who got us well under the salary cap and almost got the Panthers their first-ever back-to-back winning seasons: just in time for training camp. Sources say he was fired for being “brusque.” Ooooh! Not a brusque GM! Heavens!

Maybe the team should just leave Charlotte so I can hate them and pull for a frontrunner.

John:

Every last one of us, knowing it was a stupid move, tried to convince ourselves that not placing the franchise tag on Josh Norman would be the right decision in the long run.

“It will save us a lot of cap space.”

“He must have been a head-case in the locker room.”

“We can replace him with several competent replacements with the money we’re saving.”

Guess what? We were wrong. What a shock. We ended up trying to replace him with a revolving cast of cardboard cut-outs until something finally worked. It never did. This eventually resulted in giving the Falcons their single greatest highlight reel of a regular season game ever. I doubt we’ll ever figure it out on purpose so I just hope we’re lucky enough to sort it out by accident.

Also, I still see posts on Panthers’ fan sites lamenting the draft of Cam Newton while asserting that releasing Jake Delhomme after “one bad playoff performance” was a short-sighted mistake.

Daniel:

I’ve been making excuses for Richardson for too long. Him ruthlessly firing his sons was a red flag. Squeezing the city of Charlotte for totally unnecessary stadium renovations was another. Even after he fired Gettleman, I still came to his defense. He had to have an upgrade at GM waiting in the wings, right?

Wrong. He hired Marty Hurney, the man who torpedoed the team by handing out massive contracts to aging veterans left and right, to be the new interim GM. He FIRED the guy who somehow got the salary cap under control and took the team to a SUPER BOWL, then turned around and HIRED the same person who created the mess in the first place! Un-fucking-believable.

Blah blah, he’s the only former player to be an owner. Jerry’s NFL career was about as illustrious as Tebow’s MLB debut. Jerry sucks, Hardee’s sucks, and soon the Carolina Panthers will suck.

Jake:

First of all, This fanbase reveres Jerry Richardson. That should be enough, right? I know owner worship is nothing new to the NFL, but these mouth breathers would take a bullet for this old racist dipshit. They even have a stupid fucking nickname for him—Big Cat. I can’t even believe I just typed that. Anyway, this idiot is so deep in the throes of senility that it took him 12 whole months to process that Dave Gettleman let Josh Norman walk, so he fired him. Oh, also, he hired the gaping asshole that ruined the first four years of Cam Newton’s career to return. I can’t wait for us to hand out a $96 million extension to Jonathan Stewart after this season, just for old time’s sake.

Second of all, we don’t know how good we have it at QB relative to the rest of the league. I love Cam Newton—any smart Panthers fan does. I say though that he’s fully been in the Sunken Place and gone full All Lives Matter since February of 2016. Amazingly, a wide swath of Panthers fans still hate him and long for the old days of Jake Delhomme and want us to give Derek Anderson a shot—gee, I wonder why!

Finally, most damningly, this market does not give a shit about this team. I remember going to Panthers games as a kid. This was when the team was still in its infancy, but had some promise—a supposedly pro-footbal- starved market would have been all about this team, right? My dad had easy access to a friend’s PSLs so we caught between 2-4 home games a year for probably the first decade of the team’s existence. There was an old man who sat behind us who would listen to the NASCAR races on his walkman radio and would call out to those in our section who was winning. Routinely, a report that either Earnhardt was in a good position would invoke louder cheers than anything the Panthers would do. That’s Carolina Panthers football for you. If I had to guess, I’d say this team sits roughly 10th place in-market behind the major UNC/Duke/NC State college teams, NASCAR, domestic violence, and voting for whichever societal leach is running for a national or state office as a Republican. We all suck and we deserve everything bad that happens to us.

Kyle:

This team and its fans are a fucking joke. They would suck Richardson’s flaccid cock if they were given the chance because oh he just loves Charlotte so much and has done so much great work for the NFL during his 200 years of being alive. These damn people defend the Hurney hiring by spewing shit like “well he drafted Cam Newton” as if no other goddamn NFL GM would draft Cam with the #1 overall pick.

The OL is still in shambles, Cam will eventually turn into a vegetable, and the refs still hate us. Cam could be laying decapitated on the field and the refs would still flag him for delay of game. We’ll finish with 6 or 7 wins, fire Rivera & friends, name Hurney official Panthers GM, and hand out God-awful contracts next offseason. I’m excited!

Bryce:

Dave Gettleman had a hog molly fetish, was godawful at drafting offensive skill players, and fucked Josh Norman along with all of our hearts. Yet even in firing him, Richardson has somehow hired an infinitely bigger idiot in Marty Hurney.

Fuck Jerry Richardson with his own statue.

David:

Back to 2015...remember that pick-6 Josh Norman had in that Jacksonville game? Remember how he seemed to have about one per game for the next month? Yeah, good thing Dave Gettleman decided to let him go. Don’t let any Panthers fan fool you, no one knew who Norman was before that pick-6 to begin 2015, but that’s not really anyone’s fault since we’ve been rotating unknown DBs for about six years now. You remember how we signed Cortland Finnegan in 2015? To play for Peanut Tillman? That’s why Drew Brees throws for 5k yards every year because he’s guaranteed to throw for a literal mile against Carolina in two games a season. It’s fine though...between a 40-year-old Third Leg Greg and a Kelvin Benjamin who weighs more than Michael Oher, I’m sure Cam will be romping up and down the field and we won’t need a secondary because of all the points. And we drafted McCaffrey and Samuel who are both 5'11" so when our shit O-Line (5 years running) lets up and Cam starts overthrowing receivers by exactly twenty feet, those two hobbits will be such a help.

Adam Vinatieri can fuck right off.

Michael:

Cam’s repaired shoulder is probably going to fall off halfway through the season. Leading to at least 52 takes about how his personality (read: fun-loving black guy) is the wrong fit for an NFL quarterback and he should show more leadership and grit.

Fuck this team and the inevitable late-season game against Atlanta that determines whether we make the playoffs.

AS:

2011: Panthers fire horrible GM Marty Hurney

2012-2016: Panthers hire amazing GM Gettleman, get out of cap hell, win three NFCS titles, one NFC championship, and have one Super Bowl appearance.

2017: Panthers fire amazing GM Gettleman, re-hire horrible GM Hurney.

2018-2053: Panthers, having shown no goddamn micron of sense, have spent $192 billion dollars on 3 players, won 2 games (one after robot Tom Brady’s 2032 whole season forfeiture for having an illegal cannon instead of an arm) and are the permanent 34th place NFL team, under the London Jaguars, Mexico City MS13's, and the Cleveland Browns. Despite winning only two games, the Panthers have never drafted in the first three rounds, because goddamn moron Hurney, named GM for life by a dying, senile Jerry Richardson, has traded every 1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick for Tim Tebow’s contract rights, should he decide to leave the Space Christians base on Mars and return to football. Cam Newton’s family’s lawsuit against the Panthers, for negligent homicide after not fielding any offensive linemen at all from 2018-2021, has been dropped by the supreme court for reasons of insanity.

I’m out, I’m not sticking in this abusive relationship of a team.

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