First off let me say that I love the Carolina Panthers. I've been a fan since the team was founded and I can't see myself ever not being a fan of this team. I wore my Panthers gear proudly in public during their 1-15 season and took all of the ridicule that went along with it. I'd do it again without hesitation.
That being said, these guys are going to kill me.
Every game seems to go down to the wire. Every week seems to be a must-win. The Panthers were ahead 30-10 going into the fourth quarter against the Saints but I still couldn't relax, and for good reason. Drew Brees threw three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, in three consecutive drives, to bring the Saints ahead of the Panthers by one point with only minutes to go in the game.
The Panthers have been a second half team for as long as I can remember. You can't stop watching a Carolina game at halftime, or the fourth quarter, or the last 2 minutes for that matter. It doesn't matter what the score is, whether they're winning or losing, something exciting and unexpected is going to happen.
It's just the way it's always been. Or at least the way I've always remembered it. It may be fun for the casual Panther fan, but for a hard-core fan it's extremely stressful.
With only six seconds left in the game, the fate of the Panther's NFC South Championship hopes were up to John Kasay's 42-yard field goal kick. Not usually an issue for the normally rock solid kicker, but he had already missed a 41 yarder earlier in the game. As I watched the game from my office in Baghdad at 1 am, the potential of incoming mortar fire seemed less dreadful than the impending kick that was about to take place. I had barely recovered from the overtime loss to the Giants seven days earlier, and now this?
In the end, Kasay did what he does best and scored the winning field goal with one second left to go—and we didn't get mortared.
Despite the thrilling victory, I was left with the residual stress of watching a win nearly evaporate and with it the NFC South Championship.
Why do they do this to me every week?
I think that the online life expectancy calculators should involve a question about your favorite sports team.
1. Non-Smoker? +5 years
2. Eats right, stays in shape? +3 years
3. Carolina Panther Fan? -2.5 years
I will always be a Panther fan, but I think that I may lose a few years off my life for doing so.
The Cardiac Cats have earned their nickname in my book.