I don't recognize this fanbase anymore.
Don't worry, it's not your fault. When the team doesn't seem to care either, why should you when the seats are emptier than the words we see thrown at us every press conference, why should any of us care when the team you watch every Sunday feels like a soulless lifeform stripped of everything that makes it feel human, it's hard for any of us to take this seriously.
How did we end up here? It's hard to see a once proud underdog fanbase become disillusioned to the point of no return. Last night, for the first time in my life I put the 2nd half on in the background and barely paid attention. I wasn't mad, I wasn't upset at the product on the field. I just didn't care.
What's currently happening to this fanbase isn't the normal lament of a basement-dwelling franchise going through a rough period. This franchise is rotting from the inside out and I think every one of us knows what it is.
The fun thing about sports is bad times don't usually last, but I fear the intrusive nature and careless decisions being made by top brass are here to stay. Things look bleak when you begin to realize that it might take more than just hitting on a draft pick or hiring the right coach to fix this. Sadly, this is nothing new to many Panther fans. If you journey just a mile away to the Spectrum Center, they've witnessed this level of institutional rot for over 30 years.
To be blunt, you can't find a sports team that hasn't gone through rough times on the field, but it's not the woeful Carolina Panthers I'm trying to eulogize, it's the fans that have spent the past 30 years building and fostering a culture just to see it get ripped away by a man that wouldn't know team culture if it hit him square in his 16 billion dollar face. A man who couldn't comprehend how our team meant even more to us off the field than on it.
There's going to be a day when the Panthers rise from the ashes and play competitive football again, but the cost of that is going to be many years of yet another out-of-touch billionaire having to realize he doesn't always know best when it comes to professional sports.
Until that day...