The Swamp Panther's typical seat location.
The 2012 schedule has been announced and just like all fans of this great sport, we've all spent time dissecting it. Which are the easy games, which ones are a challenge, how do primetime games factor in, what will our final record be? These are all questions that naturally come this time of the year. I'm looking at two more questions myself, what game will be the most intense and which game(s) will I be trying to attend?
Certainly our one home primetime game will be the most popular choice. Not only do we play the defending Super Bowl champions but there is just something about a night game in an outdoor NFL stadium that is special. If you haven't had the opportunity to experience it I suggest trying to get tickets. I'm actually looking forward to one game in particular this year, one that I would gladly pass up the Thursday Night Game to attend. Which game and why after the jump...
Sunday, September 16th the Saints make their return to Charlotte, NC and I will be there. This game could arguably be the most intense game of the year. It's one of those games where you plan ahead and take a vacation day from work Monday because you will have lost your voice. It's one of those games where you show up early to make sure everything is perfect for your tailgate so you won't miss a second of the first quarter. It's not just the fans that will have this day circled on the calendar and for good reason.
Let's start with the worst of it; the Panthers are on a four game losing streak to the Saints. It doesn't matter that it took two straight years of losses for them to even the series at 17-17. This streak needs to end and I plan on being there when it does.
There is nothing worse than watching an amazing play where one of your two great running backs makes the block of the year to free up your rookie QB to throw up a bomb to the greatest Panther of all time who soars over a defender to snatch it out the air, stiff arms his defender to the turf and races into the end zone only to be blindsided by a cheap shot from Roman Harper. One of, if not, the best highlights of the year tarnished by a dirty team. The Saints narrowly escaped with a 3 point lead and in my opinion cemented themselves as our new regime's most hated foe. This led to one of my favorite Ron Rivera quotes, "You’re coming into our place and you’re going to come after one of our guys? We’re not going to take it," Rivera said. "That’s just the way it is. This is our house. You come in here, you’re not going to shove us around. I’m glad it happened the way it did. People need to know: We’re going to hit you back."
However, what has me the most fired up for September 16th is the fact that this team placed a bounty on our Rookie of the Year, Cam Newton. The Saints managed to pick up three roughing the passer penalties last year while trying their best to end a young man's career before it took off. For what? For what would in essence be pocket change to the average Joe. For bragging rights, or spending money or because they viewed him as a legitimate threat to their season Saints defenders were willing to inflict serious injury on a 22 year old man. Football aside, they had proven intent to cause injury to this young man. As I type this I get fired up and I haven't played a down of football in over a decade. So what type of intensity do you expect his teammates, our Panthers, coming into Bank of America stadium for their home opener against the team who did this? I think this may be the hardest hitting game of the year.
Yes, Panther fans, I will be at Bank of America Stadium in my seat at 12:45 p.m. Sunday, September 16th when the Saints come marching in and I will be in my seat at 4:15 p.m. when they go crawling out with their tails between their legs as well. So let's hear it CSR faithful, what home game are you going to try your best to attend this year?