The laudings and lamentations of an App-Panther

4/23/10 - It was a cool spring night. I was on my way to Asheville for a weekend trip with my girlfriend. Round 1 of the NFL draft was in the books, and the text had already come in that the Panthers selected Jimmy Clausen with their 2nd round pick in the NFL draft. I was fairly indifferent to the pick, seeing as though my other college team is Tennessee, and we aren't particularly fond of the youngest Clausen boy (he backed out of his commit to UT to attend ND). Nonetheless, I thought it was good value, and though I didn't like him personally, I could not deny his ability at QB. So, after receiving the news, i slid the phone back into my pocket and turned up the tunes, content to wait for the later rounds of the NFL draft the following day.

A short time later, the world turned on its head...

I was bombarded by phone calls and text messages from my Appalachian brethren that the Panthers had moved up in the draft to select the one... the only...



... The Armanti.

"With the 89th pick in the NFL draft, the Carolina Panthers select... Armanti Edwards, Quarterback, Appalachian State"

I cannot put into words the joy I felt! My team... my Carolina Panthers... had just selected my favorite college player of all time to play for them. I didn't need to form a new moderate interest in some other random NFL squad for the sake of following my favorite player, he fell right into my lap. I started dancing with the steering wheel... chanting... (to the beat of Conga line music)

Ar-Man-Ti is a Pan-Ther! Ar-Man-Ti is a Pan-Ther! Ar-Man-Ti is a Pan-Ther!



*pictured above: Armanti Edwards (center); thousands of App Fans pissing themselves in excitement (out of frame)

That terrified my girlfriend by the way, she is still with me... so I must have SOME endearing qualities...

I spent the rest of the drive as happy as could be, and stayed that way until we settled into bed that night, when in reflection, I may have just mumbled to myself, "Armanti is going to be playing WR for the Panthers? Yikes."

So let me get this straight, my favorite college QB is going to learn a new position at a professional level, from an offensively inept coaching staff, while trying to catch balls from either an inexperienced quarterback or a rookie, with no veterans in place to really learn from (we all know Smitty flies on his own, expecting him to mentor young WRs was never really in the cards), and all the while doing this in front of a fairly fair-weather fan base? Double Yikes. Oh by the way, we traded next years 2nd rounder to get him, so now that fan base is going to have unreasonable expectations about his development cycle. Triple Yikes.

But not one to dwell on such grim points for very long, I decided that I couldn't wait to log onto CSR and share my joy that we had drafted Armanti, and talk about what a great player he would be for us in the future. After all, I had watched him perform miracles with both his arms and his legs on a weekly basis. Game saving touchdown drives, ankle-breaking runs, breadbasket passes, water into wine, division by zero, peace in the middle east...

Okay, maybe I got carried away... but I was pumped that he was going to get to bring some of that raw athleticism and play-making ability to my favorite NFL team.

And then... the season started. Matt Moore fell to pieces right out of the gate and the running game sputtered, thanks in part to an offensive line playing well below its potential. Inserting Jimmy Clausen appeared to make some difference for the better, until Steve Smith went down with a high ankle sprain, and Dwayne Jarrett decided to get his drink on. Of course, this all compounded by the fact that we have a large rotting tree stump as out offensive coordinator, and a lame duck in the pond at head coach. Not exactly the kind of learning environment we want for a project WR conversion. It would really just be great if he could keep his head low and deep in a playbook, and get reps in live action only when every single pass wasn't being surgically dissected by every single member of the fan base. But it was not to be...

Now we hear calls for him to get his chance at QB, then we get counter-calls saying that he isn't capable of being a quarterback, then we get insults and ad hominem posts where people just in general are very angry. Not really at Armanti, but angry at the people who relentlessly support Armanti to an unreasonable point. Then we get the group that is so sick of the whole discussion, that they wish we never drafted him in the first place... and it is that last sentiment that I fear the most. In effect, there are so many people here that love Armanti, that it has made a lot of people hate him. It has made it so that instead of talking with my fellow fans about my favorite player, I have to be very quiet, or choose my words very carefully to avoid accusations of being an unreasonable App State homer. Most of the time, now, i just try and keep my mouth shut and watch as the verbal abuses continue between members.

Well, I am sick of it, and I am asking for people on both sides to calm down, stop with the attacks, and just be Panther fans. We should all want to see him succeed, and there should be absolutely none of us that regret drafting him yet. There should be no division in this fan base.

To the App fans: Trust me, I know what it is like. We have watched Armanti make some amazing plays on the football field, and it can be VERY frustrating watching him ride the pine so much of the time, especially when we are losing. But we also need to acknowledge what he is. He was drafted by the Panthers to be a receiver first and foremost. His potential as a gadget QB and/or as special teams return-man comes second. It is important that he focuses on this role so that he can have a long and prosperous career. Yeah, it is incredibly exciting to watch him get a few shots at QB, but I would take a well run slant pattern where he makes a nice catch and run for a first down way before I would take a rollout run for 8 yards.

To those who have become discouraged: Don't hate the player because of the fan. A lot of these guys have watched this player do some amazing things with the football, and it is a natural reaction for all of them to want to see the ball in Armanti's hands when things aren't going well. He has performed at a high level time and time again when put in that situation. Opinions about the competition he faced, or the talent surrounding him can certainly vary, but when a player proves he can be relied on in a clutch situation at any level, you have to respect that mental toughness no matter where he goes. The App State faithful have watched this man win, time and time again, and want the same thing for the Panthers. They are passionate about seeing Armanti play because they are passionate about seeing the Panthers have a chance to win.

Fans on both sides of this "issue" need to start being more reasonable and accommodating of their fellow fan. We are all in this together. Both sides have their excellent points, and their flaws. But ultimately they can all agree that they want to win, and they want to see all 53 of our players succeed. So please... for the love of football...

Can't we all just get along?



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