1. Steve Smith
Not only is Steve Smith a baller in general (he’s the all-time receiving leader for the Panthers and is 20th overall in the NFL) but he has a massive chip on his shoulder and can be a total and glorious trash talker.
He also gave us the best put down of the season, “Ice up, son!”
2. The Play 60 Kid
Cam Newton was featured in the most adorable Play 60 ad with Nate, the cute kid who wants to some day be the starting quarterback for the Panthers (we’d love to have you!). Nate even has his own parody Twitter account.
Oh…yeah…um, he’s also one helluva football player. He’s a Heisman Trophy winner. He was the first round draft pick in 2011. He is the fastest player to throw for 1,000 yards. He holds the record with for the most rushing touchdowns in a single season by a quarterback. He’s the first player with 10,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in his first three seasons, etc. etc. The list of accolades goes on and on.
Super Cam is legit and so much fun to watch! Plus he single-handedly saves me from impending fantasy football doom every year.
4. They gave us the most exciting Super Bowl…ever
And no, it wasn’t exciting because we got to see Janet Jackson’s weird nipple piercing.
It was exciting because the Patriots and Panthers combined for a record setting 37 points in the fourth quarter. It was exciting because just two years prior the Panthers were a one win team. The game was decided in the final four seconds by a field goal, which unfortunately gave the win to the Patriots.
5. The Cardiac Cats
Speaking of Super Bowl XXXVIII, that whole season was super exciting and earned the Panthers the nickname the Cardiac Cats.
In the 2003-04 season the Panthers played in five overtime games and won four of them, an NFL record. They also won seven games by 3 points or fewer. Oh and they also managed to lead the NFL in comback wins. NBD or anything.
We’ve seen flashes of the Caridac Cats of yesteryear this year, with some pretty exciting football games (can we say New England Patriots again?).
6. Touchdown balls to little kids
As if we hadn’t already talked about how awesome Cam Newton is, he makes it a point to find a kid sitting in the end zone and gives them the ball after a touchdown.
Srsly. Could this guy stop making my ovaries explode for two seconds?!
7. The Fans
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know every team has great fans. Blah, blah, blah.
But the Panthers fans are a community and are everywhere! Our fan base is widespread and dynamic. I remember when I moved to DC three years ago and found the DC Panthers Fans and they welcomed me with open arms. We now roll super deep with incredible people and we feel like a big wacky extended family.
It’s OK, we’ll let you jump on our bandwagon, there’s still a little room.
I won’t go off on another tangent about how good looking yet another Carolina Panther is, but know that Luke Kuechly is very good looking.
He is also a boss. In his first season with the Panthers he was named Defensive Rookie of the Year by both the AP and Pro Football Weekly.
Whenever he makes a tackle the crowd erupts with a very loud, “LUUUUUUUUKE!” which can sound a whole lot like “boooooo” but I assure you they are not the same.
9. They’re awesome at Reddit
As explained in this BuzzFeed post the verified Panthers account sent a redditor a signed football after they sarcastically complained to another that they never got signed stuff.
Fantastic Internet karma!
10. They ran the trick play from the Little Giants
Seriously. They ran the “Annexation of Puerto Rico” play against the Houston Texans and it was a thing of beauty.
11. Riverboat Ron
Full Disclosure: I was one of the many fans calling for Rivera’s head on a silver platter at the beginning of the season (sorry man, we sports fans are a fickle bunch).
However, I’m not sure what they’ve put in his Gatorade, but I like it! As someone who had been known for never going for it on fourth down, Rivera has actually decided to throw caution to the wind and take a gamble. It has been super fun to watch and has given Panthers fans something to cheer about, plus the above image is just all the things.
12. Keep Pounding
The Panthers’ mantra is hands down the best in professional sports. No question. The story behind it is even better.
In 2003 Panther’s linebacker Sam Mills was diagnosed with cancer. The night before the playoff game between Dallas Mills gave a memorable speech that said in part he wanted his team to “Keep Pounding!”
Mills died in 2005, but his legacy, strength of spirit, and memory live on.
13. They made a little boy’s dream come true
Jack Bolton has spinal muscular atrophy but had a dream to coach the Panthers, which the Make-A-Wish Foundation made possible.
What ensued was too much cuteness to handle and just a phenomenal thing, especially to see the players and coaches rally around him. The highlight absolutely was when Cam asked Coach Bolton for his autograph.
Watch the video in the link and see if you can keep your eyes dry.
14. Their mascot is super fierce
Look at that face. You don’t want to eff around with a Panther.
15. They’ve defied expectations this season
Admittedly there was a lot of excitement when the season first go underway, but after dropping three of their first four, fans began to think this would be similar to the disappointment in years past. But after winning their last eight in a row the Panthers have been exciting and oh so much fun (if a little nerve-wracking) to watch.
GO PANTHERS! KEEP POUNDING!