The Carolina Panthers Don’t Deserve Your Sympathy.

And no, its not wrong, they simply don’t. The Carolina Panthers are used to adversity, they are used  to fighting every season and even more accustomed to fighting for your respect; I think they are over it.

This team has seen some rough days, instability, and harsh scrutiny, but shockingly, none if it broke them. You have to wonder how one of the youngest teams in the league handles all this pressure, and not the pressure of being good, but the pressure of being ignored.  The Carolina Panthers aren’t a team you hear too often coming out the mouths of analyst or featured on ESPN, but they are the team that’s beloved by their fans. While the Panthers have yet won the hearts of American Television, they are local heroes to their communities. Now, granted there are a few scandals the Panthers would like to put behind them such as Rae Carruth’s murder trial, Kerry Collins being an alleged racist and more recently, Greg Hardy’s domestic abuse trial, but Jerry Richardson has truly molded this team to rise above the criticism.

While the Carolina Panthers have seen the flashing lights of the Super Bowl, they have also seen the low of being a 2-14 team; there is nothing that can surprise them. Now granted, every team sees their rebuilding phase, but this Carolina team has struggled in finding their identity. Being an expansion team coming into the late 1990’s had to be something difficult. Most of the NFL teams have a strong history such as the Steelers and the Packers, or better known as teams that have generational fans. Carolina Panthers had to gain their fan base and their loyalty, and with their dedication to their community, they did just that.  Jerry Richardson and the Panthers have committed themselves to growing NC/SC and making their presence felt. Not much national attention is received when they deliver water to flood victims or donate money to churches, but it doesn’t go unnoticed with their fans, and that means more than an ESPN headline.

“Cam Newton has no targets” “How did they pull that win off?” “They won’t remain undefeated for long” “Without that defense, Carolina wouldn’t be in their current position” “Cam Newton isn’t a top NFL QB” What haven’t this team heard? And all of this is from this current 2015-2016 season, imagine when they were losing.  Head Coach Ron Rivera, who has won AP NFL Coach of the Year, has this saying that rings every time Cam finds a new target or the defense makes a huge play “Your answer is usually on your roster”. There aren’t many heavy hitters on this roster outside of Davis, Olsen, Newton, Benjamin, Kuechly, or Kahlil, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from rising to the occasion and doing what’s necessary to win. Players like Tre Boston, Josh Norman, Ted Ginn, Jr., Corey Brown, Ryan Delaire and Bene Benwikere, have all become household names and becoming NFL stars in their own right. It doesn’t take  superstars to win games, it takes a team.

The Carolina Panthers don’t need your sympathy, they actually rather continue being the “under-dog”. Upon the drafting of Cam Newton, this team found their leader. A kid who just completed a perfect NCAA Football season, a Heisman winner and yes to some, a “scam”, Cam Newton can be called many things, but you have to acknowledge his rise to leadership. Like many people his age, he’s made his share of mistakes, and at times was immature at the podium, but the Cam Newton you see now, isn’t the same Cam from 2011. Cam is a winner. As you can simply Google, the man has his accomplishments, to enter the NFL and lose with a team isn’t something winners are accustomed to especially if they’re apart of the problem. Cam Newton changed his tone and became a different beast. Each season he fixed something that he reviewed with family, he noticed his body language and he acknowledged his lack of faith in his team sometimes. He pulled up his big boy pants and changed who he was which in turn, helped changed his team. He’s their biggest fan. Every player has their flaw, no fan will ever see a perfect player (there is Thomas Davis, but he’s the exception), but growing is a part of any life pain, and this team has made difficult decisions to rise to expectation, the expectations of their fans.

No, the Panthers still don’t need your sympathy. They’re tough enough to realize no one is noticing their perfect season so far. No, the Panthers don’t need your headlines, because they come home to fans who cheer them on with all they have. No, they don’t need your television time, because it doesn’t take the country to realize the heart of this team. The Carolina Panthers are fine on their own. They have thrived with the odds against them.  They may even like the doubt, it gives them the fuel to win even more

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