The closest we had to a home team when I was growing up was either the Atlanta Falcons or the Washington Redskins, but somehow my team of choice, and the one I still pull for over anyone else, is the Dallas Cowboys. Yes, I know their season this year was nothing to write home about, but every team has its ups and downs.
Around the time I was graduating from high school, this new team was created — the Carolina Panthers — and it came out hot and heavy, making it to the conference championship game in just its second season of play. I decided as long as they weren’t playing my Cowboys I would pull for the Panthers.
But since then, in the last nine years, seasons have been up and down, just like they are with most teams. And I didn’t keep up with them as much — not just because of the ups and downs, but my life changed as well, with a kid coming along who took my attention and a husband who hates most anything dealing with sports, despite the fact he played football for three years in high school.
Last year, the Panthers began showing much improvement over past years, and this year has been a ride on the top. The team, lead by quarterback Cam Newton, and other standout players like Michael Oher, Luke Kuechly and Greg Olsen, has won 15 of its 16 games played. Each week the buzz on Facebook feeds was “will they win again” or something about their record and the final score of the most recent game they’d won.
One thing I’ve loved so much is how they share their game with the fans, especially the kids at the games. As a kid, I would have been ecstatic to have one of the players hand me a game ball.
As a whole, the team has put on a strong performance, and fans, including myself, are hoping it can bring home Carolina’s first Super Bowl win Sunday night.
Whether someone is a football fan or not, the Super Bowl has something for everybody, or most everybody. There is the game of course, the competition, the athleticism. But there is also the arts end with the performance of the National Anthem and the Half-Time show, as well as the commercials, some which are meant to be comedic and others which touch the heart.
For just a few hours Sunday night, most of America will be doing the same thing. No matter where we are — at home, at a friend’s, at a sports bar or restaurant with TVs, at church for a social gathering, or some other gathering — all eyes will be glued to the Super Bowl.
For those of us in North Carolina, it could be a historic moment, a first Super Bowl for our home team.
And yes, while I still am a Cowboys fan, I can’t say I’m not excited about a possible win for the Panthers. I will definitely be parked in front of a television watching the game Sunday night.
Keep pounding! Go Panthers!
Wendy Byerly Wood is editor of The Tribune and The Yadkin Ripple. She can be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.