|The Charlotte Observer in 1993|
when the NFL announced an
expansion team would be placed
Usually you get an answer. Maybe they like a player on one of the teams. Maybe there's a built in rival that someone will never root for. Maybe one of the teams has a feel-good story. Maybe there's a sentiment.
Me? I'm rooting for Carolina. Why? I'm from Charlotte.
I'm sure you are saying, "Well, duh. That's a dumb question to ask." Maybe, but I'm not a Panthers fan. I'm a die hard Washington Redskins fan. I've been that way my entire life. When John Riggins turned a 4th-and-1 into a Super Bowl title, I was hooked. About a quarter of my closet is burgundy and gold shirts. Even in the 24 years since the Redskins last Super Bowl appearance, I still feel like a championship fan.
So in 1995 when the NFL plopped a team in my hometown, it was exciting. I will admit that it was awesome. Still, I was a Redskins fan. I'm not trading in my first 20 years of fandom for the new thing nearby. No. I'm not doing that. My parents and my sister became diehard Panthers fans. So did most of my friends and former classmates. My Facebook page is filled with people from my teenage days that are hyped about the Panthers ... even though there was no Panthers when I hung with them. I got a little miffed about the Panthers since their arrival knocked my Redskins off television locally as they were the local team. You still find many Skins fans in the Queen City.
Another quarter of my closet is Carolina blue. You know, the Tar Heels. The team that North Carolinians call "Carolina". Yeah, I'm a die hard of the Heels as well. I own zero Panthers shirts. The only Panthers stuff I have is a pennant that hangs in my son's room. That's to signify my family's team. I also have a Bengals pennant up there now, as I have since moved to the Cincinnati area (where my son would be born) and wanted to put his hometown up there.
He's got two Redskins pennants as well.
Since the Panthers arrived, I must admit that I have a soft spot for them. I like to see them do well, though it doesn't make me feel bad when they don't. So when the Panthers got on this 15-1 roll and their playoff dominance on the way to the Super Bowl, I am a bit ... happy. My family and friends are excited. My hometown is glowing. To bring that Lombardi Trophy would be unbelievable to Charlotte. Charlotte is a relatively newer "big league" city. The Hornets got there in 1988 and they and the Panthers have combined for zero championships. Sure, my Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils have won 8 NCAA titles in that span ... those schools are two hours away in the Research Triangle. It isn't Charlotte's win. A Panthers Super Bowl title would be ... just as the two states will celebrate.
So I am excited to see the Panthers in the Super Bowl. I hope they win, though it wouldn't kill me if they lost.