Carolina Panthers Explained

Carolina Panthers
Current:2012 Carolina Panthers season
Founded:1993
City:and headquartered in Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte, North Carolina
Nicknames:Cardiac Cats (2003)
Uniform:Image:NFCS-Uniform-CAR.PNG
Colors:Black, Panther Blue, Silver, White
Coach:Ron Rivera
Owner:Jerry Richardson (48%)
14 others (52%)[1]
President:Danny Morrison
General Manager:Marty Hurney
Mascot:Sir Purr
Hist Yr:1995
Nfl Start Yr:1995
Division Hist:
No Conf Champs:1
No Div Champs:3
Conf Champs:
  • NFC: 2003
Div Champs:
  • NFC West: 1996
  • NFC South: 2003, 2008
Playoff Appearances:
  • NFL: 1996, 2003, 2005, 2008
No Playoff Appearances:4
Stadium Years:

The Carolina Panthers are a professional American football team based in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are currently members of the South Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The Panthers, along with the Jacksonville Jaguars, joined the NFL as expansion teams in 1995. In their existence, the Panthers have compiled a record of 131–150, and appeared in Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston.

The Panthers have held their summer training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina every year since the franchise began.

Franchise history

Origins (1987–1994)

In 1987, shortly after it was decided that Charlotte would receive an expansion National Basketball Association franchise (the Charlotte Hornets, now known as the New Orleans Hornets), former Baltimore Colts player Jerry Richardson met with a group of potential backers to discuss the possibility of bringing an NFL expansion team to the Carolina region.

In 1992, the NFL released the list of five areas open to a potential NFL team: Baltimore, Maryland; St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; Jacksonville, Florida; and the Carolinas, represented by Charlotte. After the vote was delayed because of a dispute between the players and the league, the race began again in 1993. In June of that year, Richardson Sports announced that they would finance the stadium through the sale of Permanent Seat Licenses, club seats, and luxury boxes. In a stunning show of fan support, all seats were sold out by the end of the first day.

On October 26, 1993, the league announced that the owners had unanimously voted for the Carolinas to receive the 29th franchise, the first new NFL team since 1976 (Jacksonville was named the 30th team a month later). Fans all over the region celebrated with fireworks. In a memorable moment during the expansion announcement conference, Richardson spoke directly into the camera to thank the 40,000 people who had purchased the PSLs and allowing the stadium to be built without a burden to the taxpayers.

Dom Capers era (1995–98)

1995

See main article: 1995 Carolina Panthers season.

The Panthers signed Dom Capers, previously the defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as their inaugural head coach. In their inaugural season, he led the Panthers to a 7–9 record, setting a record for the most victories by an expansion team. The Panthers also became the first expansion team to beat the defending Super Bowl champions by defeating the San Francisco 49ers 13-7.

1996

See main article: 1996 Carolina Panthers season.

In 1996, Capers led the team to a record of 12–4 and an NFC West division title. After defeating the defending Super Bowl champions, the Dallas Cowboys, they advanced to the NFC Championship, but fell 30-13 to the Packers, who went on to win the Super Bowl.

1997-98

After the Panthers' success in 1996, Capers led the Panthers through two disappointing seasons: a 7–9 season in 1997, and a 4–12 season in 1998 which resulted in Capers being fired after four seasons with the team. During his career with the Panthers, Capers finished with an overall record of 31–35 (including the playoffs) and one division title.

George Seifert era (1999–2001)

After Dom Capers was let go following the previous season, George Seifert was hired as the second head coach in Panthers history. In his first season with the team, Seifert helped the Panthers improve four games to finish the season with a record of 8–8.

He then led the team to a 7–9 record the following year, before leading the Panthers to their worst record in franchise history.

In 2001, the Panthers won their season opener 24–13 over the Vikings, but set a (then) NFL record by losing 15 consecutive games to finish the season 1–15. Seifert was fired shortly after the season ended, finishing with an overall record of 16–32 as head coach of the Panthers.

John Fox era (2002–2010)

After Seifert was fired following the disastrous 2001 season, the Panthers hired New York Giants defensive coordinator John Fox as the team's third head coach. Fox was known for defensive discipline and it would be needed to improve a team that had finished in the bottom of the defensive rankings the previous year.

2002

See main article: 2002 Carolina Panthers season.

In 2002, Fox's defense-first philosophy worked well as the Panthers improved to 7–9 (a six-game improvement over the previous year) and posted the second-best overall defense in the league after having the second-worst the previous season.

2003

See main article: 2003 Carolina Panthers season.

In the 2003 season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Panthers were losing 17–0. Jake Delhomme replaced Rodney Peete at quarterback by halftime, then led the Panthers to a fourth quarter comeback, thus winning the starting job. Delhomme eventually led the team to an 11–5 record, the NFC South Division title and a playoff berth.

In the playoffs, they easily defeated the Cowboys in the wild-card round before facing the St. Louis Rams in the divisional round. Carolina had an 11-point lead in the last three minutes of play, but the Rams tied the game and sent it to overtime. In the first play of the second overtime, Jake Delhomme hit receiver Steve Smith with a 69-yard touchdown pass to win the game 29–23. In the NFC Championship game, the Panthers faced off against the Philadelphia Eagles. Philadelphia, already without starting RB Brian Westbrook, lost QB Donovan McNabb to a rib injury and fell to Carolina, 14-3. The lasting image in many Panthers fans' minds was RB DeShaun Foster's one-yard touchdown plunge, having broken five tackles on his way to the end zone.

The Panthers were then headed to their first Super Bowl in team history, to be played against the New England Patriots. In the end the Panthers fell 32–29 to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII. The multiple close games, won either in overtime or with a slim margin, gave way to a new nickname for the Panthers: the "Cardiac Cats."

2004-2010

In 2004, the Panthers suffered major injuries early on, and the Panthers finished the season 7–9.

In 2005, however, the Panthers finished 11–5, securing themselves the NFC's #5 seed. They began their post-season play by shutting out the Giants in New York 23–0. They then defeated the Bears 29–21 in the Divisional playoffs, before falling to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship, losing 34–14.

After finishing the 2006 and 2007 seasons with records of 8–8 and 7–9, respectively, the Panthers rebounded in the 2008 season, finishing the season with a 12–4 record, claiming the NFC South title and a first round bye in the playoffs. However, the Panthers' season came to a crushing end, as they lost to the Arizona Cardinals 33–13 at Bank of America Stadium in the NFC Divisional playoff game. The Panthers' offense was plagued by Jake Delhomme's six turnovers (five interceptions and a fumble).

In 2009, the Panthers finished with an 8–8 record, before finishing 2010 with a record of 2–14; following the 2010 season, Jerry Richardson decided not to re-sign John Fox, whose contract had expired.

After nine seasons with the Panthers, Fox finished with a record of 78–74 (including the playoffs), two division titles, and one conference championship.

Ron Rivera era (2011–present)

After a disappointing 2010 season, John Fox's contract was not renewed and most of his coaching staff were let go.[2] Shortly after, the Panthers hired Ron Rivera as the fourth head coach in Panther history. Rivera was previously the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears and the San Diego Chargers and was a linebacker on the 1985 Bears team that won Super Bowl XX.

2011

See main article: 2011 Carolina Panthers season.

The Panthers selected quarterback Cam Newton as the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Newton promptly broke numerous passing records, most notably the Panthers' single game passing record of 423 yards, set by Chris Weinke in 2006. In just his second start, Newton threw for 432 yards against the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers.

Carolina also traded a third round draft pick in the 2012 NFL draft to the Chicago Bears for TE Greg Olsen. In the short week of free agency Carolina signed TE Jeremy Shockey, TE Ben Hartsock, LB Omar Gaither, WR Legedu Naanee, QB Derek Anderson and K Olindo Mare. Signing Mare was very controversial from the perspective of the fans. Mare was signed to replace fan favorite John Kasay, the last original Panther from the inaugural 1995 squad who was cut with two years left on his contract. Mare was supposed to bring a stronger leg to the team, but has disappointed with the fourth worst average field goal percentage of his 15-year career. He missed several important field goals, including a 31-yarder which would have sent the Panthers into overtime against the Minnesota Vikings.

In 2011 they improved upon their 2010 2-14 season by going 6-10 in 2011.

By the end of the season, the rookie quarterback had rewritten the record book in Charlotte and many more in the NFL (including most passing yards by a rookie with 4,051, previously held by Peyton Manning with 3,739; and most rushing touchdowns by a QB with 14). Newton joined Steve Smith in 2001 as being the second Panther rookie to be named to the Pro-Bowl. On February 4, 2012, Newton was named AP Offensive Rookie Of the Year.

Logos and uniforms

The Panthers logo consists of the head of a snarling Black panther outlined in blue. It is shaped to resemble the combined borders of North and South Carolina.[3] The helmets are silver, and in 2003, they changed the helmet color slightly to a more metallic shade.[4] The team normally wears silver pants with their black jerseys, and white pants with their white jerseys. Both the black and the white jerseys have blue stripes over the shoulders. The team introduced an alternate jersey in 2002 that is blue with black shoulder stripes. Carolina debuted the alternate light blue jersey for one game at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002. The alternate jersey has been worn twice a season beginning in 2003. The Panthers have worn the light blue jersey a few times on the road when the home team has chosen to wear white due to the heat, as the light blue uniforms are more comfortable in the heat than black. Carolina prefers not to wear black when the temperature is hot or not mild enough. With the league rules permitting teams to wear their third jersey twice in the regular season and once in the preseason, the Panthers reserve the use of their alternate light blue jersey for a home game when there are one or two games that they don't wear them on the road.

Like many other NFL teams located in temperate climates, the Panthers traditionally wear their white jerseys at home during the first half of the season - forcing opponents to wear their dark ones under the warm autumns in Charlotte. When it gets to the second half of the season the Panthers will start to wear their colored jerseys for home games as temperatures will be cooler.

The team's uniforms prompted a 2003 lawsuit by the Oakland Raiders, who claimed that the NFL and the Panthers had infringed upon key trademark elements of the Raiders' brand, specifically the silver and black colors. In the same suit, the Raiders challenged the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1997 uniform design, including the pirate logo. The Raiders wanted the courts to bar the Buccaneers and Panthers from wearing their uniforms while playing in California. However, since the lawsuit was filed in a state California court, the lawsuit was tossed out because only federal courts have jurisdiction over intellectual property issues.[5] The Raiders have yet to appeal the ruling.

The Panthers have played in ten postseason games, wearing the white jerseys in all but their most recent playoff game. Two of those games were at home against the Dallas Cowboys, making the Cowboys wear their "unlucky" or "jinxed" navy-blue jerseys, as the Cowboys are one of three teams who routinely wear their white jerseys at home with limited exception.

On January 29, 2012, for the first time since the team's inception, the Carolina Panthers unveiled a new refined logo and logotype. It has been designed to provide a more aggressive, contemporary look to the logo while making it more three-dimensional for ever-increasing digital use.[6]

Rivals

Atlanta Falcons

The rivalry with Atlanta began in the first season of the franchise when both teams were members of the NFC West. Carolina played Atlanta in its first ever game, losing 23-20 in overtime. From 1998 to 2002, Atlanta dominated the series, winning 9 out of 10 games, including 6 straight from 2000 to 2002. As both teams are located on I-85, travel is relatively easy between home and away games. Atlanta currently leads the series 22-12.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Although Carolina first played Tampa Bay in 1995, their rivalry did not start until 2003, when DT Brentson Buckner claimed fellow DT Kris Jenkins was the best defensive tackle in football, angering Tampa Bay DT Warren Sapp. In their first game since that banter, the Panthers held a 9-3 lead in Tampa late in the fourth quarter, when QB Brad Johnson hit WR Keenan McCardell in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. All that remained was for the Buccaneers to kick an extra point to win the game, but unbelievably it was blocked by DT Kris Jenkins to send the game to overtime. The Panthers ended up winning 12-9 on a John Kasay field goal. Later that year, in the rematch in Charlotte, the Panthers again held the lead 20-7 in the fourth quarter. A fan began to heckle Sapp - which turned out to be a bad idea. Sapp quickly sacked QB Jake Delhomme twice to give the Buccaneers back the ball. Tampa Bay then went on a tear, scoring 17 unanswered points to take the lead 24-20. Delhomme, however, calmly led the Panthers down the field with no timeouts to throw the game-winning touchdown to WR Steve Smith. Since then, the rivalry has been known for its trash talking and occasional fights. Notably, Carolina DE Kavika Pittman essentially had his career ended after getting leveled by a block from Buccaneers T Kenyatta Walker in 2003. Also, in 2006, Tampa Bay QB Chris Simms lost his spleen on a hit, and in 2009 Carolina CB Dante Wesley laid into PR Clifton Smith before he had caught the ball, knocking Smith out and getting Wesley ejected. There were some disputes also between Bucs K Martin Gramatica and Panthers P Todd Sauerbrun. In their first match up of the 2011 season, Cam Newton set an NFL record for most rushing touchdowns in a season for QB with 13. In their second match up of the 2011 season, Newton set the record for most passing yards in a season for a rookie QB and converted a 91 yard touchdown pass to WR Brandon LaFell to set a Carolina Panther records for longest pass. Carolina currently leads the series 14-9.

New Orleans Saints

Carolina also maintains a rivalry with New Orleans, with both teams playing in the NFC South division. The series is currently tied at 17-17 with the Saints winning the last four straight. Former Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme was a backup in New Orleans before signing with Carolina in 2003. Things got heated in 2011 during a game when Roman Harper shoved Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith after Smith scored a touchdown in the endzone which lead to a fight breaking out between players on both teams. After being released by the Panthers, the Saints acquired "Original Panther" John Kasay, who had an excellent 2011 season in New Orleans.

Dallas Cowboys

Outside the division, the Panthers biggest rivals are the Dallas Cowboys. In both 1996 and 2003, the Panthers were responsible for eliminating the Cowboys in the playoffs. In a key game late in the 2005 season, Steve Smith was ejected for touching an official. Late in the game, a blocked field-goal was reversed by a penalty and Dallas scored the winning touchdown two plays later. This late-season loss kept Carolina from winning the division and forced them to enter the playoffs as a wild card team. Dallas leads the series 8-3, with Carolina being 2-0 in the playoffs but only 1-8 in regular-season games against the Cowboys.

Arizona Cardinals

A recent rivalry has developed between the Panthers and Arizona Cardinals. During the 2008 regular season, the Cardinals traveled to play the Panthers and took a 17-3 lead at halftime, but the Panthers rallied in the 3rd and 4th quarters to win. Following the regular season, in which the 12-4 Panthers won their third NFC South division title, they hosted the Cardinals at Bank of America Stadium in the Panthers first home playoff game since January 2004. Though the Panthers were heavy favorites, the Cardinals won 33-13, intercepting Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme five times. The following season, the Panthers traveled to face the Cardinals and won 34-21 in a game in which the Panthers defense intercepted the Cardinals' Kurt Warner five times as well. The Panthers got their second win of the season against the Arizona Cardinals on December 19, 2010 with a score of 19-12. The Cardinals defeated the Panthers in the 2011 season opener on September 11 despite rookie QB Cam Newton's 422 yard debut. The Panthers and Cardinals have played each other every season since 2001 with the lone exception of the 2006.

Former rivalries

Carolina had several rivalries within the NFC West from 1995 to 2001, before Carolina moved to the NFC South in 2002. Due to current scheduling, Carolina has infrequently played many of their former division rivals, and the rivalries have thus dulled.

St. Louis Rams

Carolina had a rivalry with St. Louis during their time in the NFC West, but since moving to the NFC South in 2002 the rivalry has faded. It is most known perhaps, for the 2003 Divisional Playoff matchup between the two teams, which Carolina won 29-23 in double overtime. Carolina leads the series 11-8, with a 1-0 lead in the playoffs.

San Francisco 49ers

Carolina was a rival of San Francisco when they were in the NFC West together. Former San Francisco coach George Seifert also coached the team from 1999-2001. They no longer maintain a rivalry, as Carolina was moved to the NFC South in 2002, and the two have played rarely since then. Carolina currently leads the series 10-7.

Players of note

See main article: List of Carolina Panthers players.

Pro Bowlers

Hall of Honor

The Carolina Panthers Hall of Honor was established in 1997 to honor individuals for their contributions to the Carolina Panthers franchise.[7]

  Carolina Panthers Hall of Honor
NamePosition(s)Date of Induction
Mike McCormackExecutive Consultant, General Manager, PresidentSeptember 21, 1997
Sam MillsLinebacker, CoachSeptember 27, 1998
PSL Ownersn/aSeptember 13, 2004

Retired numbers

Pro Football Hall of Famers

Coaches of note

Head coaches

See main article: List of Carolina Panthers head coaches.

NameYearsWonLostTiesWinning %PlayoffsAwards
Dom Capers - 31350.4701–1
George Seifert - 16320.333 -  -
John Fox - 78740.5135–3 -
Ron Rivera - present6100.380--

Offensive coordinators

Defensive coordinators

Current staff

Franchise traditions

Fight song

When the Panthers started in 1995, fans would sing the official Carolina Panther Fight Song "Stand and Cheer" (composed by Duane Evans) every time the team would score. As the first season was played at Clemson University, many fans felt that the song was reminiscent of the collegiate atmosphere those games had.

The fight song only lasted a few years before being officially retired. Officials with the Panthers organization said that they received a large number of fan complaints regarding the fight song. The fight song was revived, although in an abbreviated version, during the first preseason game of 2006. It was used throughout the remainder of the season. Currently, "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond is played and sung by fans after every home victory.[8]

Growl Towel

Growl Towel (called the "Prowl Towel" from 1996–1997) is the nickname adopted by fans that refers to small, terry-cloth towels that are waved or spun in the air during Panthers home games. The towels are similar to the Pittsburgh Steelers' Terrible Towel, but are in Panthers team colors (also white in more recent years).[9] They are used most prominently during playoff games.

Radio and television

The Panthers' flagship radio stations are WBT in Charlotte and WBT-FM in Chester, S.C. The announcing team consists of Mick Mixon, Eugene Robinson and Jim Szoke. Most preseason and regular season games are locally broadcast by Charlotte's Fox affiliate, WCCB channel 18. The exceptions are when one of their preseason games gets nationally televised on a network other than Fox, in the regular season when they host an AFC team in the afternoon (in which case the game would be on WBTV, the CBS affiliate), or when one of their regular season games is in primetime.

Radio affiliates

Panthers Radio Affiliates

CityCall SignFrenquency
Albemarle, North CarolinaWSPC-AM1010 AM
Asheboro, North CarolinaWKXR-AM1260 AM
Asheville, North CarolinaWWNC-AM570 AM
Augusta, GeorgiaWNRR-AM1380 AM
Barnwell, South CarolinaWDOG-AM1460 AM
Beech Mountain, North CarolinaWXIT-AM1200 AM
Blacksburg, VirginiaWKEX-AM1430 AM
Boone, North CarolinaWECR-FM102.3 FM
Burlington, North CarolinaWZTK-FM101.1 FM
Camden, North CarolinaWPUB-FM102.7 FM
Charleston, South CarolinaWSCC-FM94.3 FM
Charlotte, North CarolinaWBT-AM1110 AM
Chester, South CarolinaWBT-FM99.3 FM
Chesterfield, South CarolinaWVSZ-FM107.3 FM
Christiansburg, VirginiaWKEX-FM94.1 FM
Clinton, South CarolinaWPCC-AM1410 AM
Columbia, South CarolinaWZMJ-FM93.1 FM
Conway, South CarolinaWHSC-AM1050 AM
Dublin, VirginiaWPIN-AM810 AM
Durham, North CarolinaWDNC-AM620 AM
Elkin, North CarolinaWIFM-FM100.9 FM
Fair Bluff, North CarolinaWQTM-AM1480 AM
Fayetteville, North CarolinaWUKS-FM107.7 FM
Florence, South CarolinaWWFN-FM100.1 FM
Greenville, North CarolinaWTIB-FM103.7 FM
Greenville, South CarolinaWYRD-AM1330 AM
Hamlet, North CarolinaWKDX-AM1250 AM
Hartsville, South CarolinaWTOD-AM1450 AM
Henderson, North CarolinaWIZS-AM1450 AM
Hendersonville, North CarolinaWHKP-AM1450 AM
Jacksonville, North CarolinaWJNC-AM1240 AM
Kinston, North CarolinaWRNS-AM960 AM
Lenoir, North CarolinaWKVS-FM103.3 FM
Lincolnton, North CarolinaWLON-AM1050 AM
Lynchburg, VirginiaWBRG-AM1050 AM
Lynchburg, VirginiaWBRG-FM104.5 FM
Manning, South CarolinaWYMB-AM920 AM
Mocksville, North CarolinaWDSL-AM1520 AM
Morehead City, North CarolinaWTKF-FM107.1 FM
Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaWJXY-FM93.9 FM
Newton, North CarolinaWNNC-AM1230 AM
Raleigh, North CarolinaWCMC-FM99.9 FM
Roanoke, VirginiaWGMN-AM1240 AM
Roanoke Rapids, North CarolinaWPTM-FM102.3 FM
Rock Hill, South CarolinaWRHM-FM107.1 FM
Rocky Mount, North CarolinaWZAX-FM99.3 FM
Rutherfordton, North CarolinaWCAB-AM590 AM
Salisbury, North CarolinaWSAT-AM1280 AM
Shelby, North CarolinaWOHS-AM1390 AM
Simpsonville, South CarolinaWYRD-FM106.3 FM
Spartanburg, South CarolinaWORD-AM950 AM
Statesville, North CarolinaWSIC-AM1400 AM
Thomasville, North CarolinaWEOM-FM103.1 FM
Wilmington, North CarolinaWBNE-FM103.7 FM

External links

Notes and References

  1. http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/01/04/1956498/jerry-richardson-breaks-the-silence.html "Jerry Richardson breaks the silence"
  2. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/dec/31/sports/la-sp-nfl-report-20110101 "Carolina Panthers fire Coach John Fox"
  3. Web site: Carolina Panthers (1995-Present). Sportsecyclopedia.com. 2011-09-04.
  4. Web site: Helmets, Helmets, Helmets. Misterhabs.com. 2011-09-04.
  5. Web site: Sports: Bucs free to use pirate logo after Raiders suit is tossed. Sptimes.com. 2011-09-04.
  6. Web site: Sports: Panthers introduce refined logo. Panthers.com. 2012-01-29.
  7. Web site: Carolina Panthers Hall of Honor. Panthers.com. 2004-09-13. 2011-09-04.
  8. http://www.panthers.com/Multimedia Panthers.com - Multimedia
  9. Web site: Carolina Panthers Official Growl Towl. Shop.panthers.com. 2011-09-04.