I seriously got involved with the NFL – and the Carolina Panthers – during the team’s 2003 Super Bowl run. I was 10 or 11 back then and remember having my heart broken when the New England Patriots won on a last second field goal.
Being a Panthers fan – or a fan of any team for that matter – comes with its ups and downs. Good seasons, bad seasons, player departures. I’ve stuck around for it all. Even sitting through the 1-15 season that got us the overall pick in Cam Newton back in 2011. Who knew I’d end my support of this franchise for the foreseeable future just nine years later?
I know the NFL is a business. Oftentimes a cruel business. However, I keep going back to the way Cam was let go, no, ditched. Thrown to the curb by the very organization that drafted him. No proper send off other than a tweet and a three-minute “tribute” video. This after he has given of himself tenfold for not only the game but the community as well.
The organization is no stranger to treating its legendary, fan favorite players poorly. From Steve Smith, to Thomas Davis, and Greg Olsen. Sure, I was upset with their departures but the Cam ordeal beats them all.
The handling of this was not only bad business but cowardly and unforgivable, in my opinion. The Panthers front office duped Cam, its fan base, and even the media into believing he may stick around. New Panthers head coach, Matt Rhule, said at the NFL Scouting Combine just a month or two ago that he “absolutely wanted Cam here.” My how things have changed.
The Panthers have a new coach in Rhule who talks a lot without really saying anything, an incompetent general manager in Marty Hurney, and an owner in David Tepper who is blinded by his own financial interests. Oh, and a new quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater who, at 200 percent, can’t even match what a healthy Cam can do.
Love you, Cameron Jerrell Newton. Always QB1 and I will support you wherever you land. Thank you for the countless hours of work, both on and off the field. Whether in the gym, on the practice field, game days, or within the community. Thank you for making a kid’s day by giving him or her a ball after you scored a touchdown. Thank you for everything.
The Carolina Panthers lost a lifelong fan. I don’t know if the organization can do anything to earn my trust back.