by John Grooms
Do you know someone who watched the entire Panthers vs. Bears game yesterday? If so, please be nice to that person today; theyve suffered enough. In todays daily paper, sports writer Scott Fowler, after a few weeks of pretending otherwise, states the obvious: this years Panthers are the worst team in the NFL. Some fans could argue that Buffalo deserves the award, but I disagree. The Bills are one sorry specimen, but even they would be hard-pressed to seem more incompetent or, lets just say it, more hopeless, than the Panthers did yesterday.
There are two crucial questions that need to be asked here:
1. Will this years Panthers wind up as the worst team in NFL history? Its too soon to tell, but its not looking good. It will take a substantial improvement on the Panthers part if they want to avoid joining the leagues worst-ever hall of shame, along with the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 1980 Saints (the season when their fans started wearing bags over their heads), the early-'70s Houston Oilers, the 1991 Colts (still record holders for fewest points and touchdowns in a 16-game season) or, lest we forget, the utterly dismal 2001 Panthers. I say go for the fame what a delightful memory to share with friends and family in the future: "Remember, Billy, when the Panthers bookended the decade with two worst-ever teams in just a 10-year period? Ah, those were the days."
2. Now lets be serious. If the Panthers are so completely abysmal this season and that's not really up for discussion why does the local media keep yammering on and on about them, as if there was someone left who gives a damn? OK, sports radio I can understand, since thats a good venting outlet for disgusted fans. But really, why does the Observer continue to devote nearly four full pages every autumn Monday to a team that everyone makes fun of, shakes their heads over, or otherwise disrespects to the max? It has to be a matter of ads having been sold to accompany the stories on Panther Mondays. (Please tell me that no one in Charlotte is so bored that they actually take the time to read every little detail, on all four pages, about the previous days Panther slaughter.) If the excessive coverage is all about sold ads, then the papers sports writers have been turned into employees of the ads buyers, which, needless to say, isnt journalism. But maybe its simply out of habit that they go on and on about a team everyone else has pretty much abandoned. If so, heres a better idea: Break your habit, and wake up to the possibility of giving more coverage including local writers commentary to the major league baseball playoffs. Theyve been pretty exciting so far, with extra-inning games, upsets, dramatic homeruns, a no-hitter, and other stuff readers might care a wee bit more about than the latest story on some running backs hangnail. Its October, guys how about more than just lip-service coverage of baseball's Fall Classic? Just because the Panthers are local, that doesnt make them the better story and certainly not four friggin pages worth.