The smell of pigskin in the Spartanburg heat, hands reaching over chain-link fences to give sweaty players praise and garner a signature -- the sound of keyboards clacking, as they apply overwrought ledes to training camp articles. It's here, it's finally here! If you've been living under a rock, then you probably haven't heard that the Carolina Panthers are opening their training camp tonight, and you certainly haven't heard that we're hosting a meetup for this weekend's practices, including a dinner event on Saturday night.
Practice begins tomorrow, July 27th at 2:30 PM. The Panthers are hosting a 'Play 60' event prior, beginning at 1:30 PM. We plan to meet sometime during this initial hour. Since we're shaking up last year and not doing lunch prior, contact will be vital.
Please be sure to follow @CatScratchReadr, and @james_dator on Twitter.
BW and I will be tweeting our location in the parking lot, and it shouldn't be too difficult to find each other given the bevy of landmarks that will be around Wofford. Think of it like a scavenger hunt, except you're looking for a husky Australian beneath a giant inflatable Panther.
We'll chat about the team, take a look at the sites, and get ready to head inside Gibbs Stadium for the afternoon session. This should last anywhere from 2-3 hours, depending on how long the Panthers want to put on a show. Last year the stadium practice ran over 3 hours, so prepare ahead and make sure you're well hydrated.
The show hits the road after training camp and rolls on to the Mellow Mushroom. If you've never eaten there you've done yourself a disservice. This will be our evening meetup for all our Cat Scratch Readers, and don't worry about bringing the family. My wife will be there, so you can ask her about the life mistakes she's made to reach this point, and we're of course kid-friendly. There might even be a special guest or two who join us for a night of fun, mirth, and football*.
If you're staying the night in Spartanburg then we're rolling into Sunday. Morning practice is at 9:30 AM, and storms set to roll through the area should keep it nice and cool**. The Sunday practice will be down on the field, and less structured than the display you'll see on Saturday. It's here where we see the nitty-gritty of Panthers camp, and get to start breaking down players without their pads on. This ensures we overrate them as much as possible, only to see them flame out in preseason... huzzah!
So remember: Football, pizza party, and more football. It's like a 1980's Pizza Hut ad, but without a coach to foot the bill***.
* Not a guarantee
** As cool as Spartanburg can ever be, which likely means insanely humid.
*** Ron Rivera, if you want to pay for our pizza we are TOTALLY okay with that.