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The View from the Lot

Monday, August 28, 2006

Catman gets out Foxed

So while I was in Atlanta watching the game last Thursday night, sometime in the 3rd quarter Fox Sports announcers Darryl Johnston and Dick Stockton made a comment about the empty seats at Bank of America Stadium. They said in a push to keep people in their seats for the remainder of the game that some lucky fan in attendance would be given a free car. Just about then my wife calls to tell me the same thing and that I should make sure and call the guy that bought my tickets and relay to him that a car was not part of the deal.  

Upon arrival back into Charlotte my wife informs me that all they showed on TV was that our own Hall of Fame fan Catman was the winner of a little toy car. She said they did not make it clear if this was a model of the real car and not much else was heard on the subject. That is until last night when I got the skinny from Catman himself. It appears that the Fox network decided to play a little preseason prank and Catman was the mark.

Sometime late in the game a little clipboard carrying flunky wearing an Acura ballcap walks up to Greg 'Catman' Good's perch on the section 104 wall and asks him the rhetorical question "Are you going to be staying for the entire game?" Catman naturally bellows back that he is indeed going to stay just as he does for every Panther game. Then from out behind Mr Clipboard lurches the Acura t-shirt wearing assistant clipboard dude who declares with the sincerity of Ryan Seacrest "You are SOOO lucky you said yes!". Now that they had hooked the Catman, the senior clipboard guy takes down Greg's vitals such as his name, age, address, height, weight, etc. While this is going on, Fox sideline report Tony Siragusa is standing nearby looking at Catman like he is going to be coming over during a break.

Some time passes and then Mr Clipboard walks back up to Catman and repeats "Man, you are so lucky" and then walks away again. Catman now feels that he is winning a car or something because all the empirical evidence is there in front of him. Then came the break and up walks Siragusa who presents him with the toy car on camera. Being in the moment and figuring that they could not drive a real car onto Mr Richardson's field during a game, Catman decided to play along and pulled out one of his Catman Bobbleheads and simulated it driving around the toy car whilst Catman shouted "Superbowl, Superbowl, Superbowl".

With the cameras now off and no follow-up on where to pick up the keys to a new car, Catman began to realize that he had been had. Tony Siragusa walked back up and offered wishes from Johnston and Stockton for being such a good sport.

I guess when you combine off-season Superbowl bound hype with late game preseason football and a Thursday night Charlotte crowd not in attendance because they are roaming the suburbs looking for the latest grand opening of a TGI Fridays's things like this happen to your superfans.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Sacrifice

It it now just past midnight on gameday. Instead of laying my head down in my comfy bed performing a mental checklist of  the tailgate supply loadout and menu needs while I drift to sleep, I am typing up a blog entry on my laptop in a small hotel room a couple of hundred miles south the Charlotte.

I hate to admit this, but even during football season, the fact that I must earn a living in the real world cannot be escaped and my profession has dictated that I must be in Atlanta, Georgia for the next couple of days. It is not often that I miss a Panther home game. In fact since the 1996 season I have missed a grand total of 3 games. Once was a Monday night game in 1997 vs the San Francisco 49ers while I was speaking at a conference in San Diego. Second was a preseason Patriots game in 1999 because I wanted to get a good lakeside camping spot on Lake Fontana for Labor Day weekend. The last game I missed was a New Orleans Saints game in 2003 while I was on a company financed vacation in Mexico. All told, those are three totally acceptable excuses to be absent from my designated spot on the wall in section 108. However not in my most graphic nightmares would have I thought I would miss a game due to a routine business meeting in of all places, Atlanta. For the past week I have been containing an internal rage fueled by the fact that I must be sequestered in the one place all Panther fans find unholy.

However a healthy 250 mile jaunt down the I-85 interstate speedway cruising somewhere just south of the century mark on the speedometer allows one time to introspect on those things that are gnawing at their gut. I first began to think about the state of denial I had been in for the past week. I could have offered my tickets up for sale and gotten somebody to take them probably within minutes. However I was holding out for some sort of ridiculous miracle to take place. Maybe my customer would take ill and force a cancellation of the meeting. Perhaps the Centers for Disease Control would quarantine Atlanta in order to make sure Michael Vick did not contract any sort of illness from outsiders before the start of the regular season. But as each day passed, it became more apparent that I could not alter my destiny and that I would be sitting in this very hotel room on this very evening. So in the 11th hour I began a quest to find a worthy soul to take my seats. Almost everyone who was going to the game had already secured their tickets. Finally at the last minute I found a buyer. He is a casual Panther fan, willing to wear the colors and cheer the team for sure. However what really made the deal enticing was that he is a born and bred New York Jets fan. If you cannot find a die-hard Panther fan to take wall seats for a Carolina home game against the Miami Dolphins, the next best thing is a Jets fan because those people are designed to hate each other at a genetic level.

So I figured at least that is some positive karma for the Panthers. However I am now past Greenville, South Carolina nearing the Georgia state line and still have some unresolved issues. Why must I make this sacrifice in of all places, Atlanta? Minot, North Dakota would have been a more consonant locale in my mind. But then I started thinking about that word sacrifice. It is an ancient word signifying ones willingness to give up material items, food, animals and sometimes even other people as an act of propitiation or worship to their chosen God or other deities.

Ok, so sacrifice is a strong word in the literal sense. However we freaky football fans usually make reference to our own set of omnipotent pranksters known as the football gods. And even though they are nothing more than a metaphorical vestibule for good old fashioned luck, they are still just as worthy of sacrifice. So now I am a few dozen miles into the Peach state and begin to realize my situation is not so bad. It occurs to me to me that I have given my prized seats to watch a Dolphins game to a die-hard Jets fans while I sit in a small hotel room not 30 minutes away from the place where those foul Dirty Birds of Atlanta practice in the same season that the Superbowl is played in Miami, Florida. Now in the historical sense, this sacrifice may seem trivial. However it is what got me to the Atlanta city limits without crashing into anything so I am sticking with it. And in 164 days we shall see if it was met with approval by the gridiron demigods.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Stand and Cheer for the Fight Song

Just one preseason game down and already there is a bit of controversy brewing in the Queen City. After Jake Delhomme hit Drew Carter in the endzone for the go ahead score in Saturday nights game, a familiar yet somewhat different sounding tune began emanating from the stadium PA system. It took several seconds to fully register, but when the chorus kicked in it brought back all sorts of memories from the bygone days of Panther innocence. In case you forgot the words, here they are:

Oh, nothin' could be finer
Than to be in Carolina For a Panther football game!
Stand and cheer for the Panthers
Stand and cheer for the team
The pride of both Carolinas
And city of the queen
Stand and cheer for the Panthers
In our grand ol' name
Nothin' could be finer Than to be in Carolina
For a Panther football game!
From the mountains To the Ocean
Carolina, Carolina best of 'em all!
From the endzone To the endzone
Carolina, Carolina carry the ball!
Oh, nothin' could be finer Than to be in Carolina
For a Panther football game!
Nothin' could be finer Than to be in Carolina
For a Carolina Panther football game!

Did you forget how the tune goes? Well you can click here to download it.

Put it on your I-Pod, make it a ring tone. Burn it to CD and play it at your next party. Sure, it is about as corny and stupid as they come. However one cannot deny, or suppress, the fact that this song is part of Panther lore. And right now this tradition is under attack. Even within the placid waters of the Pantherfanz mailing list, there is a divided house on the continued use of this song during the games. Too many people associate our fight song with the losing ways of past. However the dissenters in the crowd should realize that the song was ousted from the loudspeakers of then Ericsson stadium in the 1998 season and yet the team still managed to fall apart just 3 years later. Lets get real here. The American economy thrived in the 1990's in spite of Mill Vanilli, so there is no way 'Stand and Cheer for the Panthers' is going to send this team back into the 1000 to 1 Superbowl team odds.

It should also be noted that our stupid song sucks less than the other offerings from the NFC South. Check out the lyrics for the Falcons song

Go Falcons, Fight Falcons, Fight hard today.
Go Falcons, Win Falcons, Rise up for the fray.
Rise to glory, stand united, zoom to fame.
Mighty Falcons, noble Falcons win this game.
Go Falcons, fly Falcons, fly hard all the way.
Fight for you colors and score today.
Go! Go you Falcons.
Let's win a victory.

The song is so lame it does not even have music associated with it. Just a bunch of words that look like some moonshine drinking hillbilly's dyslexic version of a Haiku.

However there is one thing even worse than a horrible set of lyrics lacking any music and that comes in the form of the New Orleans Fight song which is When the Saints Go Marching In. <click here for music>

When the Saints, go marchin' in,
Oh when the Saints go marchin' in,
I want to be in that number
When the Saints go marchin' in.

When the sun, begins to shine,
Oh, when the sun begins to shine,
I want to be in that number
When the sun begins to shine.

Now lets just forget for a moment that the use of this music as a fight song for an NFL team is nothing short of a blatant form of plagiarism. The purpose of the song is for use as a funeral march taking dead bodies to the cemetery expressing the wish to go to Heaven through the illuminated Pearly Gates. Not the kind of imagery I need at a football game, regardless of how good it sounds with a talented brass band.

And lastly there are those friends of ours down on the Gulf Coast. I am not sure how many of them know it as they are probably more familiar with the latest Budweiser jingle, but they do have a song called Hey, Hey Tampa Bay <click here for music>

Go Bucs!
Go Bucs!

Hey, hey Tampa Bay
The Bucs are hot and ready to play
Got a job to do, gotta win today
Hey, hey Tampa Bay!
Let's scream and shout, set the sail
Tampa Bay is about to wail.
Gotta fight the fight, not about to fail
Hey, hey Tampa Bay!
Go Bucs!

What sort of idiot makes up a song that spends half of its time spelling out 10 letter word twice? And that is perhaps the greatest lyrical quality of this tune. The rest of the song appears to be made up from sound bites taken from the last Girls Gone Wild in Clearwater pay per view special and then someone had to add the word 'Sail' because oh yeah, they are about Pirates.

Well I for one am proud to say I want the song to return. During its last run, most people would sing it after a score. It was the only thing outside of POOOOOLE, MOOOOOOSE and HOOOOOVER that our fans could ever do in unison. Anything that can get the majority of our 73,000+ voices engaged during a game is worth standing up and supporting.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Dog Days of Summer

Are the dog days of summer really over? Just last week I was thinking that global warming was not just something that lacked any sort of controversy, but that it was 100 years ahead of schedule. And then much to my surprise I awake Saturday morning to a nice cool rain shower that did not include Gail force winds or tree shattering lightning strikes. And upon the conclusion of the precipitation the local climate lacked the superheated consistency of a malfunctioning Finnish sauna. All summer long I have been constantly body punched by the Carolina heat, the constant crapola in the Middle East and just the general day to day struggles of supporting a middle class family in 21st century America.

However just like that cool wind that came out of nowhere yesterday, football and tailgating season always arrives at the right time. After packing up the Jeep and prepping the grill for the game, there was nothing that could bother me. Not a crying baby upstairs or a Hezbollah rocket attack on the other side of the world. When gameday comes, I know it is all about hanging out with a bunch of great friends both new and old all with the same purpose, to watch some football and have a great time. It is very rare in today's world where people from different walks of life can have a common goal. We seem to be too preoccupied with our differences to sit down and rejoice in the things that bind us together. Over the years I have found that the parking lot erases those walls of division and brings all sorts of people together. It does not even matter what team you root for. We have always opened up our party to the opposing fans and each time it has been an awesome experience. Hell, give me a beef brisket after 8 hours in the smoker, a keg of cold beer and one healthy dose of former NFL cheerleaders walking around the lot I could get a group of Shiites and Sunni's dancing in the streets hand in hand.

So it is only the middle of August here in sunny Carolina and those dogs of summer will be coming back to visit a few times more. But with one game behind us it is time to start getting ready for those Cool Cats to strut in and take us to and well beyond the end of the regular season. Forget all that talk about the Superbowl, right now for us in the tailgate lot is all about home field advantage in the playoffs. Charlotte has yet to experiance a 12 game home schedule. We are ready for it...

Jo<er 2006