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Reeling From a Super Loss

Patrick Strathman - February 9, 2016 12:06 pm

As I write this, it’s been almost a day and a half since my heart was broken again. I’m healing slowly, but every now and then I see someone who demands to rip the scabs off of my wounds and the healing starts again.

Yes, I’m probably being a bit over dramatic, but I love my Carolina Panthers. I have been a die hard fan since game one for the franchise, all the way back in 1995, even though I was living in Marysville, Kansas. I was nine years old, and just discovering my love of the NFL, since I had parents that weren’t really interested in sports. I wanted to pick a team, and chose to follow the expansion Panthers, so I could follow a team from day one. I have lived through the highs:

  • Kerry Collins leading the team to the NFC Championship game against the Packers in 1996. Sam Mills, my all-time favorite Panther, was leading the defense that year.
  • Jake Delhomme and the Cardiac Cats of 2003, winning tight game after tight game all year long until ultimately losing on another rip-your-heart out moment, when Adam Vinatieri lifted the Patriots to the Super Bowl 38 win.
  • There’s the 2005 NFC Championship game team, which was a shell of itself when it faced Seattle.
  • And then there’s been the last three divisional championships, capped by this year’s amazing 15-1 regular season and Super Bowl run.

More importantly, to be a die hard fan, you have to live through the bad times. And Carolina has had its bad times.

  • The 2001 season, which started with a win at Minnesota with rookie quarterback Chris Weinke, but was then followed by 15 straight losses. The kicker was that team didn’t get the first pick in the draft. They ended up with the second pick thanks to the expansion Houston Texans, but came away with eventual franchise cornerstone defensive end Julius Peppers.
  • The 2010 season, which resulted in a 2-14 campaign, and the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Again, to make good out of bad, the Panthers came away with Cam Newton.

I was hoping Sunday would be a coronation for my team. A crowning moment for Cam, the sign of a bright future to come, the sign that this franchise was on the verge of a dynasty, similar to the team I loathe, the Patriots.

Instead, it was a disaster. The offense looked lost all day against, yes, a very good defense. I give the Broncos credit, but I’m also disappointed in the lack of wrinkles from the Panthers. It seemed as though the Broncos knew what was coming on every play. That points back to the coaching staff.

My job is incredible. I get to come to work every day and talk about sports. I go to games and events for free. My job is fun.

I did NOT want to come to work on Monday.

Who wants to talk about the failure of their team in the biggest game of the year that is watched by the largest audience in television history? And have to talk about it four times in the morning? And again at length in the afternoon? And face three different Broncos fans in the office in the process?

It was not fun, having the scabs ripped off time and time again. I love my team. I didn’t like the criticism of Cam Newton for walking out of his post game media availability early. It seems like he had a good reason.

I love Cam’s defense of this today, and I agree. He’s a self-admitted sore loser. He says, “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.” He doesn’t like the mentality of losing and wants to win.

It might not be the leadership that most people like, but Cam is about winning. His teammates love him, as they approached his media availability on Tuesday and let the media know they still love him. He’s going to take all this and come back stronger next year. He’s heard the criticism of his game each and every year, and come back stronger the next time. I believe he’ll do it again in 2016.

But as for Cam storming out, even Broncos defensive back Chris Harris, who was overheard criticizing Carolina’s game plan, said he would have done the same thing if the situation was reversed, and didn’t like that the media areas were right next to each other.

Is it Cam’s proudest moment? No. Is it something he will learn from? Absolutely. And it’s something we can all learn from. Don’t settle for finishing as runner-up. Fight for the very best. You don’t have to be happy with what you end up with. Cam’s not happy. The rest of the NFL should watch out.

City of Salina