After putting a mediocre product on the field that went from 6-2 to 7-9 this season and missed the playoffs, the Carolina Panthers decided to not re-sign veteran linebacker Thomas Davis.
The 14-year member of the Panthers, three-time Pro Bowler, and Walter Payton Man of the Year recipient was shown the door without as much as a proper send off. Oh, excuse me. The organization did send out social media posts thanking Davis, but those don’t count in my book. Davis said in an emotional farewell video that he wanted to return to the Panthers to help correct mistakes that were made on defense last year. He also said he felt he had more football left in him and will seek other teams to play for.
As many of you know, I’ve been a Panthers fan for the majority of my life. I started to seriously follow the team during its 2003 Super Bowl campaign. From then on, my support had not wavered. I continued watching games through the good and bad seasons. Some worse than others. I even defended the organization when needed. For example, I wrote in to Nationwide and organizers with the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2016 after Greg Olsen was snubbed from receiving the honor, while his fellow finalists did.
All of that ends today.
I understand it’s a business but Thomas Davis should be an exception. I find it disturbing how the Panthers organization has treated veteran players in the past (see: Steve Smith, DeAngelo Williams, others) and apparently continues to do that now. I thought a new owner in David Tepper would change things but obviously not. A glaring issue, here, is bringing back GM Marty Hurney who has proven time and time again to make boneheaded personnel moves.
A few brave souls who agreed with this asinine decision claimed the team needs to get “younger and faster” on defense. That’s all well and good. But, other than Luke Kuechly, the current linebacker group has proven nothing to me whatsoever. Particularly this season where the defense as a whole got torched in several games. A team can be “young and fast” all it wants, but a locker room without veteran leadership is useless.
Upon news of the decision, I sent a letter directly to the Carolina Panthers expressing my concerns (you can view it here). I felt it was my right as a longtime supporter. Additionally, I’ve decided that I’ll no longer wear any Panthers related gear or attend games until the franchise can meet my expectations. Chiefly, showing more respect to veteran players and not alienating its fan base.
The Steve Smith debacle was bad enough, but this latest decision takes bad to a whole new level. Instead of addressing real issues with the team, the powers that be in the Panthers Front Office chose to rip its heart and soul out. Unfortunately, I’ve grown accustomed to decisions like this. It’s just another day at the office for a franchise hellbent on staying mediocre.