Recently, I have been reading a lot of ESPN's "defining moments" of each team and I have to disagree with what people have favored as Carolina's.
Appearing in Super Bowl XXXVIII came in first place at 40 percent, with the NFC Championship game in their second season and the hiring of John Fox in second and third place.
While those are all historic moments in Carolina's short history, none of those are what should be described as"defining moments."
A defining moment is a moment in history of something or someone that defines who they are and a spark that completely changes everything.
In my opinion, none of the listed answers were Carolina's biggest defining moment.
I remember it like it was yesterday; It was September 7, 2003 and I was watching my first ever NFL game I had every watched, and I did a lot of research on who Carolina's players were and who the best players were.
The Carolina Panthers were getting ready to play the Jacksonville Jaguars, as the wife of then-starting quarterback Rodney Peete sang the national anthem, all of Ericsson Stadium had a moment of silence for 9/11.
Jets flew over the Stadium and Carolina took the field.
The Mark Brunell-led Jaguars took a 14-0 lead over Carolina in a miserably boring first half as Rodney Peete went 4-10 for 19 yards.
Enter Jake Delhomme.
In his first drive, Delhomme threw a beautiful pass to Muhsin Muhammad for a touchdown.
As the game continued to go back and forth, Carolina ultimately took over after a Rod Smart punt block that led to a safety, a Steve Smith touchdown reception and a game-winning Ricky Proehl catch with time running out.
At that time, Carolina led 24-23, and Jacksonville was able to get down field into field-goal range to set up a potential game-winning 55 yard field goal.
Safety Mike Minter blocked the kick and Carolina would go on to win the game.
That was the first football game I had ever seen, and to this day, continues to be No. 1 on my list of top Carolina football games.
Never again will a team that looked like it had no chance even one half, turn around and play the way Carolina did in the second half of this football game.
Why was this Carolina's defining moment? The game wasn't perfect, it was sloppy and Carolina made many mistakes.
Because of this game, Carolina used that momentum to carry them all the way to the Super Bowl that season and many successful seasons after. This game was the beginning of a chapter of Panthers' history that featured Jake Delhomme, Steve Smith, Stephen Davis, John Kasay, Ricky Proehl, Julius Peppers, Mike Minter, Muhsin Muhammad, Dan Morgan and Kris Jenkins.
Carolina's defining moment comes down to one player.
Regardless of how is career ended with Carolina, fans will never see a player that had the heart and passion Delhomme had.
Jake Delhomme is Carolina's defining moment.