Some people are fans of the Carolina Panthers. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Carolina Panthers. This 2018 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: Carolina Panthers.
Your 2017 record: 11-5. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: they had a winning record in an odd year, then went to the playoffs and their quarterback got fucking creamed.
I’m not saying the Saints should have been flagged for this hit, but the next time someone gets flagged for taking Cam Newton’s head off will be the first time. It will not shock you to learn that, despite his eyes twitching like a liar on the witness stand, Newton magically cleared the concussion protocol and went back into that game, and of course the NFL had no issue with it. In fact, that suspected concussion turned out to be a “knee injury,” because why not? That little medical tent on the sidelines? It’s the NFL’s Room of Requirement. You can find any injury you need inside! SORCERY. That spinal injury Cam suffered? Actually, he has a light cold. Everyone is seemingly content to watch Cam Newton have his brain surgically removed on the field of play, although judging by his pressers perhaps he already lost that particular organ a very long time ago.
What else happened? Well, they lost a game by allowing Mitch Trubisky four terrifying completions. They lost Greg Olsen for 10 weeks. They shipped Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo and, in true ex-Panther tradition, he wasted NO time dumping on the franchise after walking out the door. They got triple-swept by a division rival. Luke Kuechly suffered another concussion. Did Cam huff his way out of yet another press conference last season? You know he did. But all of that is prelude, of course. You didn’t come here just for a recap of yet another year of stolid Panther adequacy and head trauma. You came here to celebrate the end of this wrinkly old skinbag’s reign of terror:
So let’s get on with it.
Your coach: Ron Rivera. Hey Ron, your owner is hastily selling the team to avoid any further public scrutiny of his breathtaking racism and his aggressive harassment of female employees. How does that make you feel?
“All right, do me a favor—‘Mr. Richardson’ on three. 1-2-3!”
ARE YOU A FUCKING MORON? Oh, who am I kidding? I knew the answer to that question a very, very long time ago.
“What I’ve always said is I know nothing about that. I can only speak for what he has been to me and the players,” Rivera said Tuesday. “And that’s why I did it.”
Did it ever occur to you that this isn’t about what Foghorn Leghorn did for YOU? Did it ever occur to you that he was only cordial to you because you weren’t someone he could prey upon? Jesus Christ, the only thing that can pass through the skull of any man in this organization is an oncoming defender. Fuck this clod.
Oh, and here’s your new offensive coordinator…
That’s right, bitches. I can think of no greater karmic reward for this cesspool of a franchise than being hitched to Norv for a couple of years. This man is gonna make Mike Shula look like Don Coryell by the time he’s finished. FUN FACT: You can make out every Norv play design in his acne scars!
By the way, Jerry Richardson was hardly the only misbehavin’ fella running this franchise. GM Marty Hurney was accused of domestic violence and then placed under double secret investigation. And then the team brought Hurney back into the fold when his wife withdrew her request for a restraining order. The defensive backs coach also resigned after sending horny emails. This entire organization lives in a fucking cave. Why, it’s like Greg Hardy never left!
Your quarterback: It’s Cam.
Here’s a fella who clearly puts more thought into his hats than his actual words. You already know that Cam got into trouble last season after talking down to a female reporter during a press conference. His yogurt brand dropped him, potentially bringing his probiotic levels to dangerous new lows. But if you thought that little episode was enough to chasten Cam, you must be new around these parts.
“It’s just another person’s word versus that person’s word. But needless to say, I still think extremely highly of Mr. Richardson…this is a person who has enlightened me on so many different things, on the field as well as off. And for him to kind of be ejected from my life, [on] the sports side, I don’t even know how to handle that.”
Every time I want to love Cam, he opens his mouth and rocks fall out. He didn’t get a fair shake when he first came into the league, but now he has and he’s proven to be a dope. He can dress like Andre 3000 all he likes. It’s not gonna make shit like this any less corny:
This man is football Dwight Howard.
What’s new that sucks: Congratulations! You’ve got a new owner! Say hello to hedge fund whale David Tepper!
Yep, that’s an NFL owner all right. If you look like a potato left out on the windowsill for too long, there’s a billion dollars waiting for you. And this guy is considered hot young blood! He doesn’t like Trump! He keeps brass truck nutz on his desk! He is, uh, maybe a different SHADE of white? Look man, all I know that this supposed Maverick will conveniently lose those brass balls the second he feels even slightly compelled to openly defy his new compatriots. After all, look what’s still standing outside his stadium:
Here are some fun facts for you. All prospective buyers of the Panthers were told that keeping the Jerry Richardson statue was non-negotiable. Also, if the Panthers build a new stadium in town, the statue has to go with them. And it has to be displayed prominently. They can’t hide it by the loading dock or surround it with 50 other statues of zoo animals. Apparently, the NFL was perfectly fine with all of these arrangements, content as a league for the Panthers to pay eternal tribute to a man who wrote this…
A. “The week before we play New England please do the following:
④ hair stuff
⑤ wear lip gloss
I want all of us to be at our best that week-end”
B. “④ If I could...I’d pamper you more. Rub your feet. Shave your legs. Put lotion on your body - etc, etc”
C. “④ you did not answer my questions – – Do you think of me as:
① your grandfather
② your second father
③ your second husband
④ your friend
⑤ your boyfriend
⑥ or something else –
I regret I have never been able to give you pleasure – ”]
I don’t really know else there is to say. The only punishment Jerry Richardson suffered for his crimes was being fined a literal thousandth of what Tepper paid to buy the Panthers from him. He gets to serve out the rest of his life in impossible comfort, not only oblivious to the damage he’s wrought upon others, but downright resentful of it. There is no greater crime in America than to make a rich dude uncomfortable. I can guarantee you that Richardson is betting his statue can outlive his evildoing. Given that we’re talking about the South here, that’s a pretty decent bet. This is the SECOND statue of Richardson to be erected in the Carolinas. Fuck him. Piss acid on his grave.
Such was Foghorn Leghorn’s desire to be one of the league’s showcase franchises, the Panthers always had the NFL shield (barf) at midfield instead of their own logo. Tepper was apparently enough of a master negotiator to finally replace that dopey shield with the Panthers logo, which looks like the logo for a brand of car wax. Your field is yours now, Carolina. Goody! If Tepper had really wanted to stick it to the old man, he would have signed Colin Kaepernick two months ago.
As for the team, they go into 2018 with yet another underwhelming wideout corps that will fail to get separation and force Cam to scramble around until he gets disemboweled. Torrey Smith is here. Greg Olsen is here for six weeks until he shatters a bone and hits the booth. CJ Anderson is here from Denver to vulture away carries from Christian McCaffrey (always count on Norv to pick the slow back). The offensive line lost their best player in Andrew Norwell, but at least Matt Kalil is still here to clean up the crime scene after every sack. In this league, consequences are only for players.
Thomas Davis got tagged for PEDs, but thinks he deserves a lighter suspension because he’s nice. Nice people in Carolina aren’t as nice as they think they are.
What has always sucked: Seriously, the wideouts are always horrific. They can draft a million of them and they’d all still turn into Dwayne Jarrett. Can’t they find one wideout who isn’t a thousand years old and/or bloated with lunch meat? By the end of every season, this team staggers into the playoffs with all of their captains fused together with wood glue, and then they get summarily dispatched because 10 percent of the starters do 80 percent of the work.
Carolina barbecue is the way it is because Southerners are too lazy to chew.
What might not suck: I goof on Cam, but thank God this team skirts every possible good medical practice to keep him out there, otherwise this would be piloted by Garrett Gilbert. You never want to become aware of Garrett Gilbert. His name is Garrett Gilbert. It’s like a spiritual anagram of Blaine Gabbert. AVOID.
Asheville is lovely.
Let’s remember a guy who sucked: Tim Biakabutuka! When I was in school a friend of mine dated a girl named Bianca, and all of his friends nicknamed her Bianca-butuka because Tim was huge at Michigan at the time. To this day I cannot meet a Bianca without thinking the nickname BIANCABUTUKA to myself 5,000 times in a row. It’s an illness.
HEAR IT FROM PANTHERS FANS!
When Jerry Richardson dies, I hope they rip that stupid statue down, bury it, and plant his rotting corpse on the pedestal.
Rae Carruth gets out of prison this year and is suing for custody. Fuck him into a volcano.
i’m putting as much effort into this as carolina puts into protecting a fourth quarter lead
We once used the franchise tag on a punter.
Cam wears more bracelets then a preteen girl going to a Demi Lovato comeback concert.
Fuck our stupid hayseed fans who love McCaffrey more than Cam.
Our new owner likes to display a pair of large brass testicles in his office and that’s only the second most embarrassing statue he’s stuck with.
Because this team, with its current core, had one shot to win the Super Bowl and they blew it, so now we get to watch the rest of the Rivera/Newton/Kuechly era play out in an endless series of 9-7 and 7-9 seasons.
2018 Norv Turner is an upgrade at offensive coordinator.
Our shitty GM, who ruined the beginning of Cam’s career, is back full-time despite being investigated for beating and harassing his ex-wife. Our new owner is a minor character in The Wolf Of Wall Street.
I can’t even enjoy watching Luke and Cam be great because they’re concussed approximately all the time. I can’t wait to watch this team figure out a way to somehow beat the Eagles and lose to the Browns in the same season.
The team apparently learned nothing after their Greg Hardy situation and are more than happy to cover for Vernon Butler.
Tepper is playing nice so far, but just wait, you’ll see.
Vegas should open a prop bet this season that Cam Newton will wear one of the following in a press conference this year: a monocle, habit and tunic, bubonic plague doctor’s mask, beekeeper suit, morning dress. I would bet the parlay.
Matt Kalil is still being paid $11 million a season to grab defenders by the facemask when they beat him. Their way to celebrate getting out of salary cap hell was to re-hire the guy who put them there in the first place.
The NFL Films commemorative video for the 2017 Panthers season was called Return to Relevance. Feel the excitement!
If you’ve never been to Charlotte, just imagine if the ambience of a Starbucks were applied to an entire city, and you pretty much get the idea. The games are only slightly more interesting, with most fans dressing, and acting, like they’re at a corporate team-building outing, which a lot of them probably are.
The fanbase, which is 20% diehards, 30% corporate ticket holders, and 50% older folks/transplants who root for the Panthers as their second team, is too busy trying to buy Bojangles to get to the games on time, meaning our stadium looks like the StubHub Center for the 1st quarter.
There’s a 50/50 chance that local idiots will make headlines for implying something vaguely racist about Cam Newton. Cam also types like his iPhone has every virus from the last 10 years.
In summary: fuck Jerry Richardson, fuck the transplants, fuck Cam’s Instagram typing, fuck NC state non-fans, and fuck even years.
The Panthers will give you one big superstar (Cam Newton) and try to cheap their way to a title every year. Every blue moon they will make a run but, they will eventually scrap the team just to save a freaking buck.
The team will be competitive to keep you interested until a 98-year-old Drew Brees picks the East Davidson HS Secondary to pieces with the Division on the line.
Our QB is a once-in-a-lifetime level talent who has suffered enough head injuries that he won’t be able to walk at 35, and the thanks he gets is the whole being one INT away from spewing racial slurs and claiming that he “showboats too much” and “doesn’t have the results,” like anyone could win a Super Bowl with an offensive line made of cardboard and spit. This fucking fanbase makes me want to rescind my North Carolina citizenship, except then I might have to claim South Carolina as my home state, and I’d rather drown myself in Myrtle Beach’s bacteria water than have to tie myself to the flat nightmare (Memo to South Carolinians in the comments, don’t forget to tell me about Charleston! It’s just like Asheville, except they started the Civil War and it’s 9 billion degrees from March to October. Paradise!).
The team is stuck with Marty Hurney now, and it’s all downhill until they fire him and find someone else willing to dig the Panthers out of the $100 million cap hole produced in 2019 when they sign the corpse of Julius Peppers to a record contract.
I’m delusional enough to think the Panthers will beat out the Saints and Falcons to win the division despite:
1. Losing All-Pro LG Andrew Norwell in free agency
2. Matt Kalil still sucking
3. Ryan Kalil missing 18 games the past two seasons, most recently because he wouldn’t pull the trigger on a Tempur-Pedic matress
4. Our starting RT tearing his MCL in the first day in pads during training camp
5. Newly acquired CB Russ Cockrell suffering a gruesome leg break the second day of padded practice
6. Being on our third defensive coordinator in as many seasons
7. Mike Shula getting run out of town only to be replaced by Norv Turner
8. Former first round DT Vernon Butler doing his best Greg Hardy impersonation off the field with a whopping 13 career tackles and 1.5 sacks on the field
9. Fielding one of the oldest defenses in the league with 3 starters 35 or older
10. Thomas Davis failing his drug test for banned “supplements”
11. Luke’s high tech concussion-prevention collar not working as advertised
12. “Riverboat Ron” opting for a field goal on 4th and 2 twice, including on 4th and goal — in a one score game against the eventual Super Bowl champions
At least JR is gone.
Let’s just put aside for a quick moment all the genuinely disgusting, pervy, harrassment-y shit “Mr. Richardson” has pulled for YEARS. This organization is the same one that:
- Invented the Personal Seat License, aka another way to gouge fans for more money
- Built the most boring, uninspired, mid-90s crap stadium one could imagine
- Is located in the least-interesting city in America
- Is the most volatile, unpredictable team in the league
- Somehow made Steve Smith an even angrier human
Von Miller still gives me nightmares.
Hell is having a team that has spent a quarter of a century never having back-to-back seasons with a winning record, with a coin doing a better job as predicting your season than any analyst could.
Hell is Cam Newton. The perfect athletic specimen. He’s your Madden dream QB with every physical trait pushed to the max. But he can’t string two solid outings together to save his life. He overthrows receivers for 3 years. The team drafts giants to help. So what does Cam do? He overthrows them harder.
Hell is a racist owner who literally spent his entire career in an Ivory Tower, talked to the media exactly one time in 25 years, and somehow managed to destroy his reputation so badly that he makes Jerry Jones look noble by comparison.
Hell is cheering for a hedge fund manager because, hey, at least he isn’t a racist grab-asser! Things are trending up!
Hell is having a good team that puts itself in the perfect position to make the playoffs and immediately gets smothered by a pillow held by a divisional rival who already beat you good twice.
Hell is knowing you lost that playoff game because your bad secondary got torched by a player your GM let walk and signed for less money than he asked from you from the beginning.
Hell is knowing the DBs are bad because that same GM was so petty, he pulled the franchise tag on the best CB the franchise had ever started. He replaced that guy with popsicle sticks to send a message. Make sure all the other free agent talent and agents out there know, “If you come to Carolina, I’m lowballing your ass.” At least Gettleman is gone so he can screw up the Giants for a while. Be prepared to have killer defensive tackles and guards and literally nothing else, NY.
Hell is only hell when there is hope. The Panthers put out a product most years that inspire hope. It’s the only way to make sure the despair happens.
The fact that Charlotte was one of the only cities who accepted an invite from Trump to host his Nazi RNC rally for his 2020 re-election bid, or the fact that NC leads the way in bullying transgender people, is enough to give anyone pause before signing to play in NC. This is a racist ass state that flies under the radar because of places like Alabama. But don’t be fooled.
- Our quarterback is a generational talent continually protected by tackling dummies.
- We fired our GM (Dave Gettleman) a year ago because he was kind of mean and we had no replacement plan, so we brought back the guy who was fired last time (Marty Hurney) as an interim GM. He was originally fired because he could not manage the salary cap. His first move as interim GM? Extend the contract of Thomas Davis a year before it was up, with no push from anyone, because why not. Hurney is now the permanent GM....again.
- In 22 years of existence the team has not had consecutive winning seasons (despite winning the division 3 years in a row at one point). Last year we went 11-5.
- The worst part is I will watch every game this year, win or lose, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
Ownership is still awful. We were finally freed from overly handsy, racist Dixie Mr. Magoo and replaced him with a squinty meatball of a Yinzer who will probably wave a yellow nut rag, wear a split Cam/Rapelisberger jersey, or pull some other dumb shit stunt when the teams play a preseason game in Pittsburgh next month. On the flip side, nothing represents this team’s abhorrent fan base better than a northern transplant looking for cheaper investment properties and warmer weather than his/her hometown post-industrial shithole city can offer.
Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t done jack-shit and is making 50% more than our MVP QB who led the team to a Super Bowl and I guarantee that 75% of the racist-ass, SEC-humping “real” Panther fans in NC would trade Cam for Jimmy GQ, plus whatever dead money is left from all of the Niners retired linemen, just so we can have a quarterback that looks the part.
Fuck Adam Vinitieri and John Kasay.
There’s a particular brand of Middle Aged White Guy out there who doesn’t exactly qualify as out and out racist—in fact, many of them consider themselves quite progressive, yet who still visibly bristle over certain overtly black things for reasons that never seem to make a whole lot of sense. “I can’t stand the NBA because nobody plays defense” or “Rap music isn’t real music, it’s all ‘me, me, me’” etc etc. This group of people—very much including my father-in-law (not a Panthers fan)—cannot STOP coming up with reasons that Cam Newton “just rubs them wrong”.
“Boy, when things aren’t going his way Cam has the worst body language” “Cam needs to focus on being more of a Real QB” “Newton sure wasn’t smiling in the Super Bowl, was he?”
It is MADDENING. When Cam Newton is feeling it, there’s not a better football player on the planet: not Rodgers, not Brady, nobody. It’s not just that he’s a physical freak capable of running for a first seemingly at will. He makes certain throws that look like they’re in Matrix bullet time, bending around defenders arms to find their way to whichever hapless jabroni WR (or Greg Olsen) Cam is willing into success that day.
Remember that play last year, where Clay Matthews is calling out the wheel route pre-snap, and Cam says “You’ve been watching film? That’s cool, watch this!” before perfectly hitting Christian McCaffery for a score? I dunno, seems like that’s the sort of thing that requires a pretty solid understanding of the game, yet people won’t shut up about his “Football IQ”.
The Panthers suck because despite having this superlative talent at QB, they insist on adding a ‘degree of difficulty’ challenge by doing things like letting their All-Pro Guard (Andrew Norwell) walk in Free Agency, while paying top dollar for thoroughly mediocre lineman like Matt Kalil, who’s major qualification seems to be is blood related to an actual good lineman also on the team.
Once again, the Panthers will fall short of winning a Super Bowl, and we’ll all have to listen to smarmy old guys pretend that it’s because ‘Cam Newton just isn’t a leader’ or some such bullshit. If (when) Cam’s career ends without a Super Bowl win, you will witness the sorts of revisionist history North Carolina usually reserves for whitewashing Confederate war statues...fitting, given that our very own former owner has ensured that we can never take down his gargantuan statues outside of the stadium. It’s heritage, not hate!
Brenton Bersin. Some how that asshole made it onto the roster two years running before last season. Rumor was it was because he went to Wofford like our bloated corpse of a former owner. Smart money says it’s because he’s Richardson’s illegitimate kid. I’m fairly sure Bersin is going to inherit the team when Richardson finally drops dead at midnight on his 100th birthday when Satan comes to collect his end of the bargain.
We finally fired Shula, after years of him calling for uninspired runs up the middle, and replaced him with every Turner on the planet. I think Norv originally wrote Shula’s playbook.
Every change we make only keeps everything the same. I hate this team. I’m gonna go the Jay Cutler route and stop caring, and probably becoming a half-assed Dolphins fan. Go Fins.
Submissions for the 2018 Deadspin NFL previews are now closed. Next up: Tennessee Titans.