I remember when the Panthers franchise had its inaugural season. However, I was too young to grasp the whole concept of football.
I knew the people who played it were huge, and at such a young age, likened them to superheroes.
My all-time favorite Panthers quarterback was Steve Beuerlein.
I still have my first Panthers jersey, a black number seven Steve Beurelein replica jersey. Sure, the numbers are cracked and somewhat faded, and parts of the letters are coming off, but it has withstood the test of time and the abuse of a teenager.
My father, a Giants fan, always wanted me to take up a liking for the New York (blech) Giants, and never took me seriously as a Panthers fan, saying, "Whenever you're ready to be a fan of a real team, we'll welcome you into the Giants family."
Yeah, right, Dad. You can keep your lousy Giants; I don't care how many Super Bowls they've won. The Panthers are mine. They are my team, and my brother and I are the only two in the family who love them.
My brother is a better fan than me, however. He won't attend or watch any game that the Panthers aren't playing in, he won't root for any team not playing against the Panthers, and he sure as hell doesn't have a second favorite team.
I, on the other hand, do have a secondary team. Not within the same division, of course. For those of you who don't know, whatever bit of red was left from my predominantly Panthers blue heart, has long since taken on the color of Midnight Green. I am also a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Imagine my plight when my Panthers faced off against my Eagles in the 2004 NFC Championship game! I always tell people I was solidly rooting for the Panthers, but come on, by 2003-2004, I was four years into following the Eagles, and no, I did not boo the Eagles draft selection of Donovan McNabb.
Every time I meet a fan of the Eagles or the Panthers, I tell them, "You're never going to believe this, but..." My brother admonished me for it, and when the Panthers lost to the Cardinals in the playoffs this year—I know, who would have guessed the stinking Cardinals—because my Eagles were still in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy.
At the end of the day, I am a football fan, albeit a biased one when it comes to certain teams—namely within the NFC South and NFC East divisions. I am a Panthers fan first, and I try to be an Eagles fan second, but sometimes I think I should have been born and raised in Philadelphia.
Could I be a case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? For now, I'll keep it simple. Panthers are always first, Eagles are second. When they face off against each other? I take the Panthers, every time.