The Carolina Panthers revealed their new Nike uniforms today, and aside from a few changes to the logo and the color of silver used on the pants and jersey, the uniforms remain largely the same to those not actually wearing them.
At least on the outside.
But, the inside of the Panthers uniform tells a completely different story. On the inside of the collar, the words "Keep Pounding" are boldly emblazoned in Carolina Panthers blue. While this may seem strange to those outside Panthers Nation, those of us inside the inner circle of Panther fandom know exactly what those words mean, and we know exactly why the team chose to use that phrase on the inner collar of the uniform.
We all know the Sam Mills story so there's no need to re-hash it here, other than to say this one thing: putting the phrase that he so famously coined while fighting for his life during his battle with cancer is one of the - if not the - classiest things I have ever seen the Panthers organization do, and they've done a lot of classy things in my time as a Panthers fan. To many fans, it's just a simple two-word phrase that doesn't mean much, other than an opportunity to get a cheap laugh or two with the sophomoric "TWSS" meme. But, in Carolina, that two-word phrase is more than just a cheap joke.
It's a way of life.
It's a mantra to live by. It's a reminder that when the chips are down it's not time to give up and go home, but rather time to dig in deep and continue to scratch, claw, and fight with every tooth and nail until the battle is over. It's a phrase that says - regardless of the outcome - you're going to get everything we've got. It's a warning that you're going to have to deal with the fact that we will not go down without a fight, and if you want to get the best of us then you better be prepared to work harder than we do, otherwise we'll keep pounding until we beat you into submission because backing down is something that we don't know how to do. The word quit is not in our vocabulary. We're fighters, through and through - always have been, and always will be.
The Carolina Panthers did more than put two words on the inner collar of their jersey today. They provided sound advice for fans, coaches, and players to use in those tough times when it seems that everything around us is crashing down. They instilled a philosophy that will change the way the game is played at Bank of America Stadium. And finally, they gave us a reminder of the mantra that was created by one of our very best Panthers - one that will continue to be spoken until the very end, just the way Sam Mills would have wanted.