South End was quiet last night, way quieter than it should have been as fans decked out in black and blue spilled out of bars. The only things to break the silence — besides the occassional grumble about fumbles — were fireworks. (Why were there fireworks?)
That game sucked for us Panthers fans. That’s the only way I can put it, sitting here less than two hours after watching Peyton Manning get a celebratory kiss on the cheek from Papa John.
The game was fleeting moments of joy surrounded by many more moments of anger and frustration. The crowd at Amos’ SouthEnd tried hard to get into the game, starting “Let’s go Panthers!” cheers when everyone knew, deep in their gut, that it wasn’t going to help.
Just look at how crazy they went after that Jonathan Stewart touchdown.
I could sit here and get mad about all the things that went wrong — the bad calls, the dropped passes, the missed tackles, Cam not diving on that fumble — but I won’t.
It’s really hard to keep things in perspective so soon after a championship loss, but I’m going to try. This was a damn fun football season. The Panthers went 17-2, Cam Newton was named MVP, Ron Rivera coach of the year, Dabbing became a national (international?) craze and the Panthers made it to Super Bowl 50.
It hurts now, but the memory I’m going to carry with me from this season isn’t watching the crowd at Amos’ start to trickle out with three minutes to go.
Instead, I’m going to remember Cam Newton’s front-flip touchdown.
I’m going to remember the game-winning touchdown pass to Greg Olsen against the Seahawks.
I’m going to remember the game-saving interceptions by Josh Norman and Thomas Davis.
I’m going to remember both of Luke Kuechly’s pick-6s in the playoffs.
I’m going to remember standing with more than 70,000 of my closest friends and chanting “SUPER BOWL” after demolishing the Arizona Cardinals.
Still gives me chills.
And, more than anything, I’m going to remember the energy in this city over the past few months, especially the past two weeks. I’ve never seen so much black and blue, or so much dabbing.
I went for a run before the Super Bowl, wearing a long-sleeve, white Panthers T-shirt, and a guy I passed pumped his fist and let out a loud “Go Panthers!” While I was walking back to my car after the loss, a guy I passed said “We’ll be back next year. Keep Pounding.” That’s the spirit.
The Charlotte Observer published a letter to the editor Sunday in which someone said we should have a parade for the Panthers even if they lose. I laughed at the idea before the game. Parades are for winners.
But now I understand the sentiment. We should celebrate this season and all the joy it brought us fans — and it brought a lot. Maybe we should have a parade.
On second though, nah. Let’s save it for next year.
Photo: Robert Lahser/Charlotte Observer