I was torn, emotionally, as I looked for some decent Carolina Panthers tickets a few days ago...torn, because on one hand, I love football and I love that I can get to a few games in person again this year, and I love my Carolina Panthers. But oh, do they torment me with their up-and-down mentality...and like a bad relationship, I know my Panthers too well.
You see, the Panthers, like any NFL team are an organization...a company, if you will. And although I don't play for an NFL team, I have worked for several companies in my lifetime, some bad, and some...well, less bad. But that's another topic.
The point is, I learned that an organization follows it's head; if there are problems in the stock room, there are almost assuredly those same types of problems in the board room. If you have a CEO who likes to dress in tropical shirts, your whole company dresses casually. If you have a CEO who acts like a baby, then managers in the lowest levels tend to do the same.
Okay, so my Panthers have a pretty good owner, Jerry Richardson, who played two years in the NFL, caught 15 passes (four of which were TD catches), and then used his $3,500 playoff check to launch a restaurant empire. Pretty impressive.
However, Richardson has a habit of getting comfortable, and then things start to slide. This seems to trickle down all the way into the locker rooms and out into the field, and Panther fans knew that last year, the Panthers blew a game against the Cardinals and missed the Super Bowl. Last year's Panthers team was without a doubt a Super Bowl caliber team, but, for whatever reason, they lost.
However, unlike many teams that would bolster themselves and want to build on what-might-have-been, the Panthers usually take a year off after such a great year, and already the preseason looks headed that way. Last year, John Fox was on the hot seat, and man, did he come through with the wins and the hard nosed game play. It was a joy to watch...at least until Jake Delhomme suddenly seemed to go color blind and threw about 600 interceptions in a single game (hey, I know it was less, but honestly, after the first four, were you even counting any more?)...come on Jake, I still believe in you.
The Panthers have a method of winning that really, really works...when they care to try to win.
So my Carolina Panthers tickets will be here in a day or so and I'll have time to determine if I'll be cheering or waiting till the Richardsons decide to play to win again.