What makes someone a Carolina Panthers fan?
Every fan base has its own unique way of showing loyalty and commitment to their favorite team. These fans cheer on their team each week and show unwavering support throughout the year.
The Panthers are no different in this regard, and while they may have a small fan base compared to the older, more established franchises, their fans are some of the best in the league.
There are many facets beyond watching games and cheering like a mad man (or woman). Some people take their love of the Carolina Panthers to a level that is unrivaled by the casual fan. This can include—but is not limited to—annoying loved ones, constantly monitoring team scouting reports and looking ahead to the upcoming slate of games.
While each of those carry some merit in their own right, there are just some that tend to stand out among the rest. Here are 10 ways you know you are a Carolina Panthers fan.
Many fans are content with wearing their Panthers gear during the season while watching the game. However, there are those who take it to the next level and will go anywhere at anytime wearing Carolina Panthers attire.
Some of the feedback I received on Twitter garnered a couple of amusing situations.
One of the suggestions included wearing a game jersey to a family reunion or wedding, and another follower shared a personal picture of himself decked out in all his Panthers glory at a shopping center.
On a personal note, I have asked my wife to make sure I am buried in a Carolina Panthers jersey. I have yet to make a decision on which player's name my decomposing body will adorn, but as of now, that is not a pressing concern.
There are no limits when it comes to wearing Carolina attire, and true Panthers fans who will continue to wear it proudly outside the region on any given day should speak volumes about the level of devotion one has for their team.
Speaking of which...
Anyone who is a football fan has most likely seen the commercials for NFL Sunday Ticket. The premise of the ads is to cater to those displaced fans who are unable to watch their favorite team play on the local channels. Some people could get the service connected to their home while others ventured out to the local sports bar.
During the course of my military career, I was stationed all over the world. Since none of the places I was assigned to were in the South East, I was outnumbered by other fan bases. This is especially true now, as I am firmly entrenched deep inside Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens territory.
It takes a lot of guts to root for your team outside the friendly confines of the team's local area and in an era where fans target each other for wearing the wrong jersey and attempt to do them harm. It makes a person second-guess where they can watch their favorite team play.
Panthers fans are everywhere, though, and while the numbers may be small outside the Carolinas, you'd be hard pressed to find one who doesn't have the nerve to walk into a New Orleans sports bar and relish in a thrashing delivered by the Panthers over the hated Saints.
Carolina fans love a good rivalry. We love it so much that the love we have for the actual rivalry transforms into absolute disdain for that particular team.
There is an argument about which rival is the Panthers biggest, but one would have to have go out and say that it would be the New Orleans Saints, simply based upon the physicality of these matchups and the dislike these two have for each other.
The Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a rivalry that is unique to the Panthers, but when Carolina locks horns with New Orleans, chances are it will get ugly. Despite a complete mishandling of the Bounty Gate scandal that rocked the Saints last season, the situation essentially made the hatred of the Saints fester even more.
The Panthers will be seeing plenty of their rivals towards the end of the 2013 season, and if they are playing well, those games could carry playoff implications.
Can you imagine having to meet the Falcons in the playoffs for a third meeting in a season?
There are plenty of writers, professional and amateur alike, who spend a great deal of time writing about the Carolina Panthers.
Some do it because they are assigned to the team based upon the region they live in or because of what is needed by their respective editorial staff. Then, you have those who write about the Panthers simply because they have a strong desire to do so.
One would assume that the Featured Columnists here at Bleacher Report are all fans of the respective teams they cover. This is true of both myself and Stephen Fenech. Each week, we do what so many others across the country do and write about the Panthers. Whether it's making predictions, offering analysis or making predictions, the reason we write about them stems from us being fans.
Granted, the writing may be biased, but having fans write about their team offers great insight to the organization. In a way, it helps bring fans closer together and offers a forum where debates can take place.
If you're interested in writing for Bleacher Report, apply with the site.
The easiest way to know you're a Carolina Panthers fan is the fact you constantly talk about them. There doesn't necessarily have to be a game going on, either, as the amount of love and admiration for the team is so strong that you will bring them up at some point during each day.
A word of caution, if you find yourself in a relationship or among others who do not share a common interest in the Panthers, find a way to quickly change the subject. However, if you're one of those who just doesn't care who is present when you are talking about your team, then go ahead and talk about them as much as you please.
While arriving at the game or the sports bar in Carolina Panthers garb would be considered enough, some fans go the extra mile and pimp out their ride with the team colors and logo or decorate their home in similar fashion. Sometimes, they even do both.
Whether it is on a vehicle, on the front lawn, inside the house or in a completed room devoted to the Carolina Panthers, fans of the team will show their support in some of the most creative and interesting ways.
There is no limit for a Carolina fan when it comes to showing pride for their team.
Some just tend to stand out a little more than others. Such is the case in the above video, where one Panthers fan decorated his bathroom with a little team spirit. Now, how funny would it be if there were decals of the division rivals in the toilet bowl?
While it would be reasonable to feature Greg "The Catman" Good on this slide, it seemed like a better idea to show off another "interesting" look that comes from the creative mind of a Carolina fan. Plus, "The Catman" will highlight a later slide.
Most fans are comfortable with the traditional hat and jersey when attending a game, some treat it the event like their own personal Mardi Gras (with the beads to prove it), and others, like "The Catman," take on an entirely different persona.
However, the featured "winner" of this slide is this fan who is sporting a Carolina Castaway look, complete with his own personal Wilson. You have to give the guy kudos for creativity. The beard looks pretty epic, too.
It wasn't long ago when the Carolina Panthers only won two games. Anyone following the team since the beginning knows that despite some successful seasons, there were some humiliating ones to endure as well.
The 2010 season was not the worst, though, as the Panthers also only won a single game in 2001 as well. However, it's possible that the 2001 team may have been better than the 2010 team. Regardless, there is no point in mulling over trivial points.
Regardless of Carolina's success, or lack thereof, the true fans have been there for them.
Unlike expansion partner Jacksonville, the Panthers have never had an issue selling out games, and that trend looks to continue into the 2013 season. The region loves their football, they love their Panthers and they love the fact they have something they can call their own.
Carolina hasn't been to the playoffs since 2008, but, with any luck, that trend will come to an end shortly and the dedicated fans who have been through a lot with the Panthers will be rewarded for their patience and loyalty.
It is a given that many Carolina Panthers fans held a previous allegiance to another team prior to the team being awarded to Charlotte; that is understandable. Some may still hold loyalty to their first team, though, while others have completely traded in the colors of old for the blue and black of the Panthers.
No matter how you look at it, you know you are a Carolina Panthers fan if you have been on the team bandwagon since 1995, the team's expansion year.
It was a good first year for them, as they set a league record for wins by an expansion team with seven and played their first home games in Clemson's Death Valley.
The 1995 season was one for the ages and will be forever seared into the psyche of the Carolina faithful. Sam Mills was the leader of the defense, Kerry Collins led the team in passing, and Mark Carrier put together a 1,000-yard receiving campaign for the Panthers.
There aren't too many fans in the world who can say they have been Panthers since Day 1, and to those who have bled the black and blue, I salute you.
Last, but certainly not least, you know you're a Carolina fan when you are catching most of the games by attending them versus watching them at home.
Greg Good is the definition of a loyal fan. "The Catman" has been a common fixture at Carolina home games. From his website TheRealCatman.com, "The Catman has cheered every Home game since the first game at Clemson University & including all games in Charlotte."
While not all of us can attend every game, we can still catch the action on television. Being able to watch all the games—or the majority of them—allows for fans to see live all the highs and lows of the team.
Many fans can tell you how good it felt to be fan during a successful expansion season and others can talk about the euphoria of watching the team advance to the Super Bowl in 2003. Some will talk about the heartbreak of that game, and there will be those who will vent their anger and frustrations over disappointing seasons that saw the Panthers win one or two games.
Being able to catch the games and knowing what is going on, it is a definite sign of a dedicated Carolina Panthers fan. The more you watch, the more knowledge you will gain. This will help you to be able to carry on an intelligent conversation about the Panthers.
Finally, catching the majority of the games Carolina plays will allow you to see some of the defining moments of the team's season, and they could very well be talked about years from now.
For example, who recalls Sam Mills interception that secured Carolina's first win, or the touchdown pass from Jake Delhomme to Ricky Proehl that capped-off an amazing comeback over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1 of the 2003 season?
Watching the Panthers play has its perks, and it's not just limited to drinking beer and eating wings—although there is obviously nothing wrong with that, either.