Conspiracy Confirmed!!!

Rob Carr

It has been a strange few years for Carolina Panthers fans. We have long felt like the red-headed stepchildren in the NFL family, but over the last few years things have just been… unexplainable. Well, now we have a reason, and you won’t believe how high up it goes!

News broke this morning that sports-secret clearinghouse Sportileaks has obtained and released thousands of e-mails which point to a massive NFL conspiracy perpetrated by some of the biggest names in the game. Analysts are still poring through several megabytes of data, looking for further clues but so far the picture is pretty clear.

The real National Football League that we all know and love has become a chessboard on which the elites of the sport play their game of thrones. Contract discussions, player "injuries", coach placement and even the availability of managerial talent have all been manipulated by a small group of NFL elites in a quest to win. What are they trying to win, you ask?

An uber-high-stakes fantasy football league.

Yes, you read that right. While you digest that little nugget, I will start at the beginning and try to piece together what we know so far, specifically in how it has affected the Panthers...

***

From: RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com (e-mail address confirmed to be Paul Tagliabue)
To: Evry1H8sMe@gmail.com (could there be any question this is Roger Goodell?)
Time: December 29th, 2009   09:14 EST
MATT SCHAUB AND CHRIS JOHNSON???
MATT SHAUB AND CHRIS JOHNSON???  Are you seriously telling me JR is going to win this thing AGAIN, and he is doing it on the backs of MATT SCHAUB AND CHRIS JOHNSON?!?!?!?!
Listen son, I thought I told you to get this under control.  You've been running my show now for three years, and in that time I have put up THREE HUGE GOOSE EGGS!!!  I USED TO OWN THIS LEAGUE!!! 

On its own, this is not much to go on, but it gives us a time-frame to work with and shows just how far back this thing goes.

***

From: Evry1H8sMe@gmail.com
To: RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com
Time: December 29th, 2009   09:47 EST
I thought I had asked you to change your e-mail address and stop calling me son.  It really undermines my authority when you do stuff like that.
Listen,these things take time. I've had Hurney burying JR for years. Peppers and Delhomme are gone at the end of the season along with Chris Harris, they have no prospects at quarterback and Otah seems to be taking full advantage of the "free Golden Corral for life" sponsorship I hooked him up with. Trust me, JR is not going to have ANY time to worry about your stupid league next year with all the crap he's going to have to deal with.


Well, this doesn't appear to be the healthiest of relationships. I guess all our suspicions about Otah and Peppers have been confirmed, but the revelations just keep on coming...

***

From: RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com
To: Evry1H8sMe@gmail.com
Time: December 30th, 2009   15:47 EST

Son,
I'm sorry but your "assurances" do nothing to assuage my fears. JR is wily as hell. I'm not putting next season up to chance. I'm bringing in some more help.
P.S. I will call you whatever I damn well please, and I happen to like this e-mail address, so I'm keeping it.

***

From: RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com
To: DraftHairmetGuru@yahoo.com (As if it needs any clarification, Mel Kiper)
Time: December 30th, 2009   17:02 EST
Mel, it's Paul. I need you to make sure people think Jimmy Clausen is a good quarterback.  I'm talking full media blitz.  Whatever the cost, I'll foot the bill.  Just make sure HE GOES TO THE PANTHERS.  Get whoever you need to be in on it.  I can make sure Hurney looks that way; you just make the hard sell.

***

From: DraftHairmetGuru@yahoo.com
To: RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com
Time: December 31st, 2009   10:18 EST
Paul,
HILARIOUS e-mail address BTW!
Sure thing. I know his family, so after he busts big time people will automatically just assume I was being a good friend to them by talking him up. It shouldn't be too hard to get him to the Panthers.  John is no idiot, but I can bring Hurney around. Surely they aren't going into next season with Matt-freaking-Moore at the helm.  What's all this about, anyway?

***

From: RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com
To: DraftHairmetGuru@yahoo.com
Time: January 1st, 2010   08:14 EST
Mel,
Unless you want this McShay kid getting your job, I'd suggest you mind your business and let me worry about the "why".


Paul Tagliabue, Roger Goodell, Mel Kiper... How far does this thing go??

***

From:  Evry1H8sMe@gmail.com

To:  RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com
Time: November 19th, 2010  09:44 EST
So far, so good! The Panthers are looking AWFUL this year! Good call on the Clausen pick. That has worked out like a CHARM!

***

From:  RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com
To:  Evry1H8sMe@gmail.com
Time: November 19th, 2010  09:57 EST
YOU IDIOT!!! DO YOU THINK I CARE HOW THE PANTHERS ARE DOING!?!? THIS ENTIRE THING WAS ABOUT TAKING JR'S MIND OFF OF OUR FANTASY LEAGUE SO I COULD GET BACK TO CRUSHING IT!!!

***

From:  Evry1H8sMe@gmail.com
To:  RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com
Time: November 19th, 2010  11:41 EST
So I take it that isn't going well?

***

From:  RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com
To:  Evry1H8sMe@gmail.com
Time: November 19th, 2010  13:09 EST
I don't know.  Why don't you tell me how Arian Foster, Rob Gronkowski, and Mike Tolbert are doing this year?  BECAUSE JR HAS EVERY ONE OF THEM!!!
I don't know how he does this. I swear it is like he auto-drafts random players and then they turn into superstars.
No to mention he is perfectly placed to rebuild his REAL team now due to the way he cut so many guys going into the new CBA.  Man has the devil's own luck.

***

From:  Evry1H8sMe@gmail.com
To:  RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com
Time: November 19th, 2010  14:21 EST
Maybe it's karma.  Or he's just smarter than you.

***


From:  RGoodysDad2006@gmail.comTo:  Evry1H8sMe@gmail.comTime: November 19th, 2010    14:25 EST
I WILL kill you, you know...

Man, it looks like Paul really has it out for the Big Cat. I wonder what he's going to do next...

***

From:  RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com
To:  Evry1H8sMe@gmail.com; DraftHairmetGuru@yahoo.com; StanfordRAGEface@aol.com (confirmed as Jim Harbaugh)
Time: December 30th, 2010  11:29 EST
Ok.  First of all, Jim: who still uses AOL?  Seriously?
Second, this is it.  No more {expletive deleted} around.  Jim, I have personally ensured that the 49ers gig will be gift-wrapped for you.  All you have to do is ensure that Luck kid stays in school.  There is no way he gets past Carolina if he declares.
Mel, I want you and your cronies to make this out to be the worst quarterback draft class in decades.  Downplay every single one of the kids out there.  Mallett's a drunk, Newton's a thief, Kaepernick's weird-looking, T.J Yates went to Carolina, Dalton can't throw a NERF ball 35 yards.  I don't care what has to be said, I want it said.  If you have to make disparaging remarks about their families I don't care.  I will protect you from the backlash.  If you can upsell Gabbert or Ponder, that would be wonderful.  Those kids are hot garbage.  Hurney will draft whomever everyone else says is safe with his first round pick, as always, unless JR puts him out in the rain with Fox, but I don't think he's going to.
And finally, son, I just want you to stay out of the way.  You have disappointed me for the last time, and I can no longer trust to leave you with the family farm. 

***


From:  Evry1H8sMe@gmail.com
To:  RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com; DraftHairmetGuru@yahoo.com; StanfordRAGEface@aol.com
Time: December 30th, 2010  12:01 EST
I hate you.

***


From:  DraftHairmetGuru@yahoo.com
To:  RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com; Evry1H8sMe@gmail.com; StanfordRAGEface@aol.com
Time: December 30th, 2010  12:04 EST
LOL.  Will do, Boss.

***


From:  StanfordRAGEface@aol.com
To:  RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com; Evry1H8sMe@gmail.com; DraftHairmetGuru@yahoo.com
Time: December 30th, 2010  12:14 EST
NO ONE TALKS ABOUT AMERICA ONLINE THAT WAY!!!  I'VE BEEN WITH THEM SINCE TAKING THE COLTS TO THE 1995 AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AND I WILL NEVER JUMP SHIP!!!  SAME GOES FOR STANFORD!!!
ON SECOND THOUGHT, MAYBE I WILL TAKE THE 49ERS JOB IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT!!! 


Wow, Jim Harbaugh is just as intense via e-mail.

So far, Paul's master plan hasn't really worked out so well for him. Let's see if all his meddling kept Jerry from winning their league the next year...

***


From:  RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com
To:  Evry1H8sMe@gmail.com; DraftHairmetGuru@yahoo.com
Time: December 29th, 2011  03:23 EST
Done.
I'm done.
After Hurney surprisingly had the intestinal fortitude to draft Cam Newton even after our media blitz against the kid I knew this was coming, but that still doesn't take away the bite.  JR went all-in, taking Cam AND Steve Smith in the draft.  He kept Gronk from last year, picked up Victor Cruz on the waiver wire and somehow got Parcells to trade him Lesean McCoy.
I think Bill is out to get me.


Go Big Cat! This is getting better and better...

***


From:  RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com
To:  Evry1H8sMe@gmail.com; BigJimmyH2012@gmail.com; (Jimmy Haslam, Browns Owner) THECHUDSTER@yahoo.com; (Rob Chudzinski, duh...)  Perfect1972Always@hotmail.com (Don Shula)
Time: August 20th, 2012  03:23 EST
Ok, I know I said I was done, but they just... keep... pulling... me... BACK IN!!!  (By asking me to be the commish of our league again, of course.)
I have talked to each of you individually about my newest plan, but I wanted to lay it out so everyone knows his part.
Jimmy, I can make sure you get that lucrative stadium naming contract you are after.  All you have to do is hire Chud here as your head coach at the end of the season.  I know, I know, you want to win, and he probably won't be the best candidate.  I don't care.  Your problems are not my problems.
Chud, there you go.  You get the head coaching position you covet, and all you have to do is run some stupid offense this year to force Cam to regress a little bit and justify the "sophomore slump" angle I am going to have the media sell the world.  JR tagged Cam as his "keeper" this year so I need him to have a down season.
Don, this is how your boy Mike gets his shot at an offensive coordinator position again.  All you've got to do is sit back and watch, for now...  You already owe me a huge favor for ensuring New England didn't steal your "perfect season" thunder, and now you're going to owe me another.  Expect them both to be called in next year...
Everyone got it?  Good.  Now let's do work.

Wow. Paul really stepped up his game last year. He's thinking two moves ahead, subtly moving pieces into position, and striking without mercy. Jerry is really going to have his work cut out for him if he wants to keep winning this game he doesn't seem to know he's playing.

***


From:  RGoodysDad2006@gmail.com
To:  Evry1H8sMe@gmail.com; Perfect1972Always@hotmail.com; BigSteveNFLN@gmail.com; (NFL Network President and CEO Steve Bornstein) SkippyJohnESPN@yahoo.com (ESPN President John Skipper)
Time: December 27th, 2012  06:56 EST
All hands on deck...
This is the last straw.  I don't know if JR made some kind of deal with the devil or what, but I find it utterly impossible that he tagged Cam as his "keeper" then benched him and played Alex Smith for the first half of the season, switching to Cam just as he began getting hot. 
It is time to pull out all the stops.  I want the Panthers to be a smoldering ruin by the time I'm done with them.  I want a FULL MEDIA BLACKOUT.  If they play well, say the other team had a bad day.  If they play poorly, put them all over the front page of EVERYTHING and eviscerate them completely.  If you rate players, give theirs no respect.  I want the environment around the team so toxic that NO ONE will want to sign or re-sign there. 
Don, make sure your boy doesn't have some sudden epiphany about how to call an offensive game plan.  That one he used to use back in Tampa sounds about right for my purposes.
I swear it seems like both leagues are conspiring against me.  Robert Kraft traded JR Alfred Morris last year and Parcells jumped in to gift him the Seahawks defense right before I had to play him.  Then in real life the Jets passed on Star Lotulelei for SHELDON RICHARDSON!!!  Something is amiss, and I have to get out in front of it.
I need you all on your A-games.  Don't let me down...

Well now everything makes sense. ESPN, NFL Network, the Cleveland Browns, they've all got it in for us!!!

For anyone who hasn't figured it out yet, this entire column was a fun little piece of fiction, and honestly was just my way of working through my own personal inferiority complex about my favorite team. This column was also my way of coping with the idea that I am an amateur fan-writer (a position that I love and appreciate more than anyone could possibly know) who would love nothing more than to make a living putting my thoughts down on paper, while there are seemingly hundreds of sportswriters around the country getting paid by major media outlets to write articles, and many of these people actually believe that Cam Newton is only the 100th best offensive player in the league.

The same network that took that vote didn't give Luke Kuechly consideration as an All-Pro this year, going instead with Navorro Bowman (deservedly), and Sean Lee, who plays for the Cowboys (shocker) and is coming off a major injury. (Hopefully they were watching Luke's godlike performance against the Super Bowl champs Thursday night, because I think he is about to make them look foolish.)

Bill Barnwell went on to write a piece calling RGIII, Luck, Kaepernick, and Wilson the "Gang of Four," and said they "changed the league overnight," you know, only a year after Cam broke nearly every meaningful rookie quarterback record and Andy Dalton led his team to the playoffs in his first year at the helm while the aforementioned Kaepernick couldn't even push perennial punching-bag Alex Smith out of the starting lineup.

We've got Ron Jaworski predicting that same guy (Kaepernick), while lining up behind a transcendent offensive line and having one of the best running games and defenses in the league could be the "best quarterback of all-time" by the time all is said and done. Never mind that he has only started seven games, or that he took over as the starter when the rest of the team was already in mid-season form.

We've got Gregg Rosenthal ranking Cam behind Kaepernick and RGIII, though Kaep's potential deficiencies I have already listed and RGIII is coming off a major knee injury. James Dator picked up an interesting tidbit the other day, noting that the Panthers are the only team in the NFL that ESPN did not assign a dedicated writer to for their ESPN Nation venture, having a NASCAR writer pull double-duty. And then of course we have the Adam Schein piece, which I am loathe to even link to...

The bottom line is that though it has been this way for as long as I can remember, this year there seems to be a particular vitriol (or at the very least complete disregard) toward anything Panthers-related by the national sports-media. We get the 2013 "Rodney Dangerfield" Award, because we get no respect, and I think our very own Evan Leekley said it best when he stated that it has become akin to "journalistic trolling". This is my own personal rant against the ridiculousness of it all, and here's hoping that the 2013 Panthers prove all the doubters wrong...

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