An afternoon in the stadium formally known as Ericsson.

Preamble: To all of you who are banging me relentlessly for the ineptitude I am showing in picking point-spread winners, THEY ARE PURELY FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES. And yes one would have to start actually betting to make or lose money but then again the results are basically why I do not bet. My late father dabbled as a bookmaker back in the Reagan era and he figured that the average person will pick about 38% correctly. 19-31-1 going into tonight, let’s see that is just about….38%.

For nearly nine years I have been a volunteer DJ for WSGE in Dallas NC (essentially Gastonia) where each Sunday from 10a-2p I do a self indulgent deep cut classic rock/oldies/jam band hodgepodge I call “The Classic Corner”. BTW- This show is streamed live at And if you like beach music then avoid my program and check out the beach stuff on Friday and Saturday. We also offer a fine array of Americana based eclectic programming along with blues, big band, 80’s retro and even new age musak. But in the words of Bill Madden via Holden Caulfield, I digress.

Despite passing within minutes of it weekly for almost a decade and aside from one trip to watch UNC lose to BC in the 2004 Tire Bowl. I had not been to the stadium formally known as Ericsson since the previous millennium. So with a rare 4:05 start I decided to make my way over to check out the contest.

Finally arriving about 3:15 I parked about ½ a mile from the stadium and easily found a ticket on the 5th row upstairs in the corner of the end zone at under face($30paid/$36 face). I had said during a break on my show that I thought perhaps tickets for this one would be costly. Then again I forgot that we are talking about Panther fan who much like NFC south brethren Atlanta tend to come disguised as empty seats. I probably could have shopped around and found something of better value, but where I was ended up being fine.

Interestingly enough I ran into a guy who recognized me from my exploits in Kenan Stadium and who it turns out plays in a beach and boogie outfit who’s single is being played on my station! Not that I am going to be the one to play it, but that still pretty cool! Of course I don’t expect our beach guys to start cranking out Grateful Dead and old school Peter Gabriel era Genesis so it evens out, but again I digress.

NFL policy dictates that to gain entry to the stadium one must submit to being frisked, don’t worry Bobby Knight ain’t one of the security guards. Just leave your airplane bottles of booze stuffed in your sock and you will be fine! After being mistakenly given a overpriced soda for half price I meandered over to my section. Ok perhaps I should have shopped around, or at least gone back to my car for pops old binoculars, and a hat. I was in the corner that is the last in the stadium to see shade, which means to see the game one must shield their eyes.

Of course considering just how poorly the Panthers played perhaps I should have just stared straight into the sun until blinded, then again I still would have been able to find receivers easier than David Carr. One fan had it right, this was the Jake Delhomme appreciation game. Of course this could turn out to the Jake appreciation season. Carr is perhaps the most inept quarterback I have ever seen, and I am a Tarheel fan after all so I know all about bad quarterbacking.

Q: How does someone who has a wet noodle for an arm, and who couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn become a first round draft pick?
A: See the Houston Texans

Q: How does a quarterback who can’t even get the ball to the broadside of that barn unless its five yards away stay in the NFL?
A: See the Carolina Panthers.

Then again the Panthers didn’t help themselves by playing a defense so vanilla Dick Crum called to say it’s dull. In the NFL you cannot sit back and let quality quarterbacks like Jeff Garcia get into a groove. But there were the Panthers, playing a base 2 deep read and react and not doing either until the ball had been advanced 15 yards downfield. If Julius Peppers decides to write a book about this season perhaps he should have Chevy Chase ghostwrite it for him because the way things are going this season “Memoirs of an Invisible Man” is going to fit well.

Of course the defense needed to pace themselves since they were out there the whole afternoon as the ineptness of the offense assured that one could have taken a nap and not be disturbed, at one point Tampa had 222 yards, the Panthers 45.

In the 2nd half Tampa just decided to play field position because the way the Panthers offense was playing it would have taken them a week to score 17 points. Of course the Panthers did add a garbage touchdown in the final moments, but by then Panther fan had long fled. Then again a significant portion found something better to do with their time even though their money was already spent.

At kickoff I would say easily 10,000 seats remained empty and only about 2/3 of those ever found a fanny sitting in them. And this was for a game with the division lead on the line against a supposedly hated opponent. Of course Panther fan was stuck with his hands underneath that fanny considering just how foul the festivities became. That is until leaving at about the start of the 4th quarter.

Considering just how god awful the performance was Panther fan took it all in stride because I think that unless you are under about 21 you still have some sort of feelings for whoever your team was before the Panthers moved in. So when the Panthers lose it is like, oh well maybe next week. While when the Skins for instance lost last week the typical Skins fan walking out of the watering hole I watched the contest in were generally inconsolable.

It is perhaps this overall level of detachment that Panthers fans have which make them so ineffectual as to pretty much give the Panthers a home field disadvantage at this point in time. Sure there was a lot of smack being spewed, but none of the venomous and vile brew that a Philly fan would yell in the same situation. Then again who in the NFL is more venomous and vile than Eagle fan? Cowboy fan perhaps, but I think of those folks as more ignorant than anything. Raider fan, no those folks are just pathetic, especially the guy who’s last words as he was being put to death was ‘go raiders’. Redskins fan is perhaps the NFL’s most bitter fan, then again considering just how badly Daniel Snyder has screwed up the Skins it is well founded.

This time though I truly do not digress. If Jerry Richardson sold the team and the new owners moved say to LA, Charlotte itself would be miffed if for no other reason than they would be stuck with a white elephant. But most would just wonder if we would go back to getting the Skins every week. Of course until then be comforted in the knowledge that you can go to Charlotte and see world class quality entertainment, at least from the majority of the opponents, for about the same price as mediocre big four football because in the end Panther fan is just bush league.