As fans of the NFL, we know what it is to feel a burning ire for another person simply because their team of choice does not match our own.
When a dyed-in-the-wool fan of one team encounters an opposing team's supporters, love for their own overcomes common sense and produces emotions of extreme intensity. It's part of what makes this game so amazing, and it keeps us coming back year after year.
I am the kind of fan that would literally rather die than wave the flag of another team. I love the Dolphins more than a person should love anything—to the point where I must admit my own personal happiness is inescapably fused to, and wholly dependent upon, the team's success.
I do, however, realize that without the teams that threaten to take away my happiness by defeating the Fins on the field of battle, there would be no Miami Dolphins; there would be no love.
That is precisely why I have decided to write this series, "It's Not All Hate." To remind everyone that it is football that we truly love, to thank the fans of other teams for the competitive spirit that drives all of our passions for the game, and acknowledge the fact that the symbiosis between us is what really fuels the sport.
I am going to attempt to say something nice about every single NFL team.
The Panthers organization was still in its infancy when I first came to be a resident of Charlotte, North Carolina, shortly before the turn of the millennium. Since then, I have come to know the Carolina Panthers' team and its fans quite well.
As the franchise heads into it's 16th year, there are plenty of reasons to like the Cats, not least of which being the offseason release of dead-weight quarterback Jake Delhomme.
Don't get me wrong—Jake was a nice guy, and he gave the Panthers several good years, but 2009 was not one of them. Let's just call it like it is—he was just awful.
Fortunately for Carolina, they didn't have to wait for a replacement. Journeyman QB Matt Moore shows real promise, and rookie Jimmy Clausen will be waiting in the wings, anxious for a chance to prove his worth as an NFL quarterback.
It's also nice when a QB can line up in the backfield with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Here are two solid reasons to look forward to a Panthers' game. These guys make up a running tandem that is certainly in the NFL's top five, and what's more, they are a lot of fun to watch.
Another thing you just have to like about the team is wide receiver Steve Smith.
Despite having very brittle bones, No. 89 has made a name for himself as one of the NFL's elite wideouts. His acrobatic style of receiving makes him a human highlight reel on most Sundays.
If you ask Jets' CB Darrelle Revis, there is no one who is harder to cover one-on-one than Steve Smith. That has to mean something coming from last year's runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year.
On defense, the Cats enjoy stand-out players like Jon Beason, Richard Marshall, and Chris Gamble, who always give the offense a fighting chance to win.
In my opinion, Carolina is better than a middle-of-the-road team, and there is a very good chance that they will enjoy a winning record this season.
You heard it from a die-hard Miami Dolphins fan. The Panthers should be a dangerous opponent for every team on their schedule in 2010. There—we may recommence hatred for one another at this time.
If you enjoyed this installment of the "It's Not All Hate" Series, Go To My Archive to find the others, and more.