Some people are fans of the Carolina Panthers. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Carolina Panthers. This 2016 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here. And buy Drew’s new book here.
Your team: Carolina Panthers
Your 2015 record: 15-1, presumptive Super Bowl champions until they had to actually go and play in the thing. Let’s watch!
Still takes my breath away. The best part is that he STARTS to go for the ball, before frantically retreating. There’s no misinterpreting that play: he bailed. Sometimes, when you don’t care for an athlete, it’s nice to see tangible proof of their presumed shortcomings. That play is the A-Rod glove slap of football lore. My man would have been better off getting the fuck out of dodge right from the start.
Your coach: Glorified phys-ed instructor Ron Rivera, whose Twitter feed is the most inadvertently amusing Twitter feed of any coach out this side of Wade Phillips. It’s got golf guns. It’s got bad sweaters. It’s got alligators. It’s got five million photos with Gabriel Iglesias, for some reason. Ron Rivera is adorable right up until the second he punts on 4th-and-1 and Mike Shula starts ordering 13-step drops against Von Miller.
Your quarterback: HERO.
Yes, it’s Shirley Temple addict Cam Newton. This Panthers team is molded in Cam Newton’s image, which means everything has to go exactly right, and exactly as envisioned, or else everyone ends up sulking and bitching for MONTHS. The sturdiness of Cam’s psyche is inversely proportionate to the sturdiness of his body.
Let’s go back before the Super Bowl, when the Panthers were still an undefeated 13-1 and the Falcons handed them their first loss. These whiny assholes brooded like Christian Bale on a movie set after that game, and it wasn’t even a meaningful loss. One little hiccup and Cam and his team are suddenly as composed as I am after 10 minutes of unsuccessfully trying to reboot the wireless router. WHY WON’T IT WORK?! I’M GOING TO SHOOT MYSELF AND MAKE ALL OF YOU WATCH ME DIE. [Tears out hair clumps].
At some point this season, Carolina will face adversity and it’ll all break down again, because they are the lamest group of wannabe tough guys in football. Who the fuck drag races with hoverboards? They can’t even threaten Odell Beckham with baseball bats properly. They’ll choke, and Cam will remain one degree separated from every potential hot take known to man. Colin Kaepernick sits for the anthem because CAM HAS ALREADY MADE DISRESPECT FASHIONABLE. Perfectly cromulent thesis, imho.
By the way, this summer Cam gave an interview to my GQ colleague Zach Baron and promptly covered his ass eight different ways…
Do you have an opinion on Donald Trump?
“I don’t. I think he’s an unbelievable businessperson. That’s probably it.”
Did you vote for the North Carolina governor that enacted that bathroom law?
“Um…that’s too personal. You know, I gain nothing by answering it.”
In January, right before the Super Bowl, you said: “I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to.”
“I don’t want this to be about race, because it’s not. It’s not. Like, we’re beyond that. As a nation.”
You really think so?
By the end of this season, the Brady mind-wipe will be complete.
What’s new that sucks: The statue.
There are a lot of things I hate about the NFL: Roger Goodell, Packers fans, Dan Snyder, the greater Boston area during any winning or losing streak, Lamar Miller’s uneven fantasy production, etc. There is nothing I genuinely hate more than this statue celebrating Panthers owner and human frown Jerry Richardson. It’s grotesque. I’ve never seen an object in greater need of toilet paper and egg yolks. I want US Special Forces to invade North Carolina, liberate its bathrooms, melt this fucking thing down, and throw Jerry Richardson into it.
Did you know Richardson got this statue for his 80th birthday? Of course he did. For your grandpa’s 80th birthday, he got a 50-percent decrease in Medicare benefits from Pat McCrory. But when you’re Jerry Richardson and it’s your birthday, your millionaire chums—probably using funds from team coffers—buy you a fucking statue surrounded by literal panthers and then post it at the stadium entrance so that every paying customer has to look upon your works and despair. This man is everything wrong with our country. Fuck him.
And fuck him twice over for letting Josh Norman go. They didn’t bother to sign Norman to a long-term deal, or keep the franchise tag on him for at least a year, or figure out a way to trade him. They just let a vital piece of a title-contending team walk because, in Jerry Richardson’s worldview, anyone who maybe kinda sorta possibly might fancy himself bigger than the team is a threat to be neutralized. Keep in mind Richardson is the guy who said he forbade Cam from getting any tattoos or piercings on his body if he wanted the team to draft him. Meanwhile, he’s a got MONUMENT of himself sitting out there, and can’t see the irony. In Jerry Richardson’s America, he is the head coach, and everyone else is the presumed beneficiary of his scheme. I want this team to fumble away every Super Bowl.
All right, what else happened? Oh, Kelvin Benjamin is now healthy enough to get injured again and make Ted Ginn your horrifying default choice at No. 1 wideout. Cam had a kid and literally named it Chosen. The Supreme Court had to act so that black people in this state could actually vote. Kony Ealy got caught running the Trump University of dog breeding. Greg Olsen won’t dab because he secretly hates the rest of the team. Mike Tolbert is still fat.
What has always sucked: Michael Oher! Strap on those skates, amigo!
Oher got extended this offseason, by the way. I’m elated. You and I both know that this was an average team disguised as a great one last year. With Oher still around to get Cam killed, and without Norman to anchor the secondary, and with Jonathan Stewart due for a torn meniscus any day now, Carolina will revert back to the norm and become the same, miserable, 8-8 club you never have to worry about. Given the year North Carolina has had, it’s better than those fans deserve. Oh, and your stadium now has upgrades. Like bomb-sniffing dogs! Quite the amenity.
Also, fuck your airport. That place is a prison.
What might not suck: The front seven is still pretty solid, which was part of the reason this team felt they could let Norman go. They felt wrong.
Let’s remember some Panthers:
-Kerry Collins (back when he was racist)
Hear it from Panthers fans!
We lost the biggest game in franchise history to a team that started a puddle of cartilage and bone tissue at quarterback. Also, fuck Greg Hardy.
In Week 14 last season we beat Atlanta in Charlotte to move to 13-0. Walking to my seats prior to kickoff I passed a guy wearing an Emmitt Smith jersey, a boy wearing an Eli Manning jersey and a woman wearing a Clay Matthews jersey.
I’ve been a Panthers fan since their inception when I was at Ft. Bragg and found them fun to watch. I dreamed of a Super Bowl and thought we had it last year watching Cam tear up an admittedly soft NFC South. Then he meets Von Miller and proceeds to shit his pants for 4 quarters. Then he fumbles and acts like he saw a fucking snake on the field instead of the ball. Now I get shit from Cardinals fans. The fucking Arizona Cardinals. Let that sink in.
Fuck you Cam. Fuck you Arizona. You’ve crushed my will to live.
The Panthers suck in part because of the teenagers I teach (in North Carolina, mind you) who ask if I’m a bandwagoner because I cheer for the Panthers. I sat through the 1-15 2001 season—my mother bought me a Panthers sweatshirt for Christmas that year and apologized to me when I opened it—but I have to be a bandwagoner because 90% of the fanbase will evaporate the next time the team goes 8-8.
The Panthers suck because half the fanbase was not sold on Cam Newton until he led the team to the Super Bowl, while the other half still isn’t sold on Cam Newton because he didn’t win the damn thing.
The Panthers suck because they have existed for 21 seasons, have won 3 straight division titles, but still have not ever put together 2 consecutive winning seasons.
Lastly, the Panthers suck because they tie the Carolinas together, like South Carolina is something to be proud of. The last time South Carolina was important to the course of this country, people were allowed to own other people and the South Carolinians threw a bitch fit when it was suggested that maybe that wasn’t OK anymore.
Make fun of South Carolina sometime, they’ll ask if you’ve been to Charleston. Charleston is a haughty, overpriced town so far up its own rectum that it should be renamed East San Francisco. The only reason to go to South Carolina is to purchase fireworks that go more than 3 feet off the ground, which are illegal here because the North Carolina state legislature is too busy protecting us from the gays to allow any sort of fun within the borders of our fair state.
In conclusion, fuck the Panthers.
We have fans that wear sweater vests to the games and PSL owners that sell all their tickets to opposing fans.
People in the Carolinas only came to realize this team existed last year. Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly are the only players anybody knows. Anytime a white person makes a play on defense the crowd will scream, “LUUUUUKE” no matter who it was. Cam is one bad game away from every white trash fan demanding we bench him for Derek Anderson or go out and see if Jake Delhomme has anything left in the tank. People won’t stop fucking dabbing. We have to share a team with South Carolina. The owner looks like Mr. Magoo. I had to sit and watch the Panthers lose in what was quite possibly the most boring Super Bowl ever. The one time Cam didn’t recklessly jump headfirst into oncoming defenders was during a fumble in the Super Bowl, fucking bullshit.
Don’t be surprised when the Panthers look average because we are playing teams like Arizona and KC instead of teams like Jacksonville and Tennessee.
Hopefully I’ll be alive when they go to the Super Bowl again in 10 years and lose that one too.
I’m one of 12 Panthers fans who actually is from Charlotte. The rest are just Steelers and Bills fans who hopped on the Dabbin’ Bandwagon last winter. The city’s fair-weather fans made buying a new T-shirt a bitch when there was a run on team gear, and nothing was on sale because everybody in Charlotte has too much expendable income and won’t stay with a team that’s losing. Also, Steve Smith will never have his number retired in Charlotte as long as Gettleman is there. Otherwise, classy organization, so sez Peter King.
Fuck Jerry Richardson.
Our offense put together one of the most pathetic displays ever in the Super Bowl. I love Cam and have since his first season but when things go wrong with him there’s no chance he turns it around in a game. With most top tier QBs they can have a terrible start to a game and you can still hope they turn it around for one or two drives to pull out a win. Not Cam.
I don’t know a single optimistic long-term Panthers fan. We all just expect the good young teams to collapse and then to go through a half-dozen 6-10 seasons. On the field the team isn’t really all that spectacular, despite last year’s success. The OL is garbage (we all know Oher is going to suck balls going forward), the secondary is trash (can you even name a single guy back there?) and almost all of our pressure comes from DTs. We all know Thomas Davis is nearing retirement and then it’s basically Kuechly, Short if they can resign him, and a bunch of nobodies.
But most of all seriously fuck Jerry Richardson.
While the first 18 games of last season were a fantastic joy ride, do not forget that this is essentially the same team that “won” a division at 7-8-1 in 2014, only with a slightly upgraded set of retread OTs who impersonated turnstiles and blocking sleds for 60 minutes in the Super Bowl.
I was 5 when the Panthers first became a team, not 20 miles away from my parents’ house. I had barely started understanding what sports were, and here I had been graced by the football gods to not only have a team of my own to root for, but the possibility of seeing them play in person. My little 5 year old brain was blown. A team for me to call my own! What a miracle! Surely they would one day win the Super Bowl, and I could say I was a fan from Day 1!
They did OK at first, then started to suck quickly. I watched Chris Weinke just up and leave for the Titans. I had a surge of hope in 2004, then Kasay shanked a kick and the goddamn Patriots won it instead. But hey, they made the playoffs in 2009, surely they could- oh, wait, no, Delhomme threw 6 fucking interceptions to the Cardinals. Hey, look! They’re the #2 seed in the NFC in 2013! Maybe with a bye week, they can- oh, fucking hell. God damn Seahawks.
I was losing hope. I hadn’t bought a Panthers Jersey in years. But then, a light at the end of this (admittedly brief) tunnel. The Panthers have started 4 and 0! Now they’re 10-0! 14-0! They could make histo- wait, the fucking Falcons? You stomped them 2 fucking weeks ago! OK, it’s not that bad, 15-1 is still a phenomenal record. Whooo! We beat the Seahawks! Damn, we looked awesome against the Cardinals! Could we do it? Could we actually win a Super Bowl? Could my 5 year old self’s dream come true? Could we- OHGODDAMNIT, FUCK! NO! WHY DID YOU DO THAT!?!?!?! NO NO NO NO NO.
I thought the Panthers were a gift from the football gods, but it turns out there are no football gods. They were a lie, just like Santa and the Easter bunny and happy endings. All this god damn, hair pulling, ultimately worthless sack of shit team is a way to make clinically dead Jerry Richardson a few more million dollars. I hate this team. I wish with all my heart that the 1995 expansion committee had selected Las Vegas, or Mexico City, or the fucking moon instead of Charlotte.
It’s hard to complain about a team that went 15-1 until you remember our owner has been dead for 10 years. Every time they show Jerry in his box I want there to be a little man with a stick poking him in the arm to prove to me he’s alive. I see Jerry was given his own statue with him holding out a football next to two panthers. That’s the kind of reward you get for going toe to toe with Peyton Manning in the great GET OFF MY LAWN duel of the 2011 Lockout.
Asking Peyton if he knows how to read a revenue chart when your only experience doing the same involves Excel sheets of Hardee’s franchises from the 1980's is kind of a dick move. This is a guy who hired Dom Capers and John Fox. John Fox said a punt is a good play 10 years ago and we haven’t forgotten that.
People forget our Offensive Line is 3 traffic cones and some knuckle tape, but that hasn’t stopped the mouthbreathers from predicting a 25-0 run this season because Kelvin Benjamin is coming back.
The knowledge that we’re not called the Charlotte Panthers is the saddest fact in sports. The fact that Jerry has laid out plans to move the team upon his death is the best unkept secret in sports, because no one besides local boy and Hardee’s icon Jerry Richardson would ever put professional football in Charlotte. The only thing we have going for us is rooting for a dead guy to stay alive.
February 7, 2016 was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. The day that our transcendent quarterback ascended to prove all the idiots and racists who have doubted him wrong, And then he went and fucked it up and proved every mouth-breathing dipshit racist Carolina fan right. Fuck this team and fuck Jerry Richardson with his batshit insane Two Panther statue.
1. Our lack of tradition is so palpable that the newest stadium addition is an additional TWO angry panther statues standing next to one of our team’s owner.
2. I live in Chicago and there is no bar that is willing to even take a swing as a Carolina Panther bar. The Panthers’ bar in DC was permanently closed after 5 people were stabbed. Not that many people went before last year, anyway.
3. We lose Super Bowls in psychologically traumatic ways. First, the Shyamalan twist of a kickoff out-of-bounds to lose to Tom Brady, then the slow blunting to death by Peyton Manning?
4. Cam or Luke will get hurt, we’ll lose half our games, and the team will become an afterthought to the headlines of the NBA removing the All-Star game and our legislation passing a bill that all homosexuals will have to wear blue hats.
I didn’t think anything could be worse than the SUPER BOWL® against the pats. Then we went and lost to the reanimated corpse of Peyton Manning. Fuck this team AND their new giant panther statutes.
I moved to Denver from Raleigh in November and was giddy that, as I constantly reminded all of my dickbag HB2-loving friends, “None of my hometown teams will even be in the same conference with Denver teams! I can have a whole new world of casual fandom!”
Welp, fuck all that shit. I guess drinking enough alcohol to not feel outside temperature anymore is how I handle a Super Bowl loss. Good to know.
I hope the man I saw who spent ten minutes roaming around Safeway the week after screaming OMAHA like a goddamn lunatic got leprosy. I hope every man, woman and child I see in Broncos championship gear when I’m out hiking (they legally require you to do that here, I’m pretty sure) falls off the nearest cliff. I hope Von Miller suffers a career ending injury in a tragic chicken farm stampede. Most importantly, I hope insurance covers my broken hands after I punch 14 brick walls when Cam shreds his ACL in front of my own tortured eyes here in this shitass town in Week 1.
The Panthers offense was non-existent in that Super Bowl. Fuck them and our especially our O-line for that embarrassing performance.
We had Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Kawann Short, Josh Norman (fuck), and the rest of our amazing defense just waiting to hold things down once we finally got that lead the offense was going to get us. In the end, all they got to do was watch Peyton Manning and his half-arm wheeze his way through a bunch of three-and-out series to his second Super Bowl ring.
Orange is a fucking terrible color for a fan base of full of air-deprived hill people. It looks even worse when those same chuckle-fucks are smiling and hugging while sitting next to a bunch of schmucks in black and blue who traveled twice as far to beat the same game, only to see their team turn into back into the pumpkin it was before the season started.
Our owner looks like Grumpy Cat. Fuck him and his new statue.
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