Not in our House

There has been a lot of talk this week after the Falcons game in regards to the apparent number of fans from other teams that cheer against the Panthers. This point was initially brought up by Panthers defensive tackle Brenson Buckner who complained after the loss on Sunday, that the fans weren't supporting the team enough.

Regardless of if you agree or disagree with what Buckner said, I think that the point is that it seems that every time we have a home game, there are a large amount of opposing fans there. That leads for many to wonder just where are the true die-hard Panther fans and why this is an issue.

Personally, I think it's just a result of the Charlotte area having a large influx of people coming from other parts of the country and bringing their loyalties with them. I saw it at the Packers game. I saw it at the Falcons game. I've seen it at other games. I understand a few showing up, but when it becomes apparent that Carolina can't make it as difficult to get tickets because all the home town folks have swiped them up or that when you walk in, all you see are waves of blue and white, then I'll feel better.

What we have right now are many people who own PSL's who 1) don't use them 2) sell them to people that possibly root for other teams 3) use them for business purposes only and end up leaving during the end of the third quarter because they're tired and they want to get their customers home or 4) a lot of opposing fans have this uncontrollable desire to visit Charlotte, NC and invade the Bank of America Stadium. Now don't get me wrong. I think the stadium is one of the prettiest in all the national football leagues (it should be being as new as it is) but I don't think that that alone is what is causing some of the uproar over some fans coming into our stadium.

There is a difference in the way some fans are perceived. I know that every fan is different and in every crowd, you will always have good apples and bad apples. I can only go by personal experience but this is what I observed over the past two home games. When Green Bay came to town, I thought those were some of the greatest fans out there. They were happy, yes, but respectful and a fun group of people to be around. They came to the game, they had their "Go Pack Go" section, they whipped our butts, and they left happy. I can't say the same about my experience with the Falcon fans I encountered. Here is the difference in what I see between fans like the Packer fans that I've encountered and fans like the Falcon fans that I've had the not so great pleasure of experiencing.

Fans like the Packer fan generally know the history of their team. They have been there since the Bart Starr era. They have passed down their tickets like it was a family heirloom from one generation to the next. They treat Lambeau field like it was Mecca and are generally nice to other fans because they have a general love and passion of the game of football. I could hang out with those fans and enjoy the game, regardless of the outcome.

When I encountered the Falcon fans, I swear I thought I was going to be in the middle of a street brawl. The majority of the Falcon fans I saw were loud, obnoxious, completely disrespectful of anyone or anything and were a complete distraction to the game. They carried around Falcon flags (which is fine) but deliberately came into the Panther fans section waving it and kept it there until the police came along and made them leave. After the game, I could understand how fans would be excited that their team won, but the showboating and the "rub it in your face" attitude that were expressed by many of them, were not only an embarrassment to themselves, but to the entire Falcon organization. Now I realize I'll probably catch some slack over this and people will say that the Panther fans were being poor sports for losing and that you can't put everyone in the same boat. True. But at what point does a stereo-type of a bad fan become the norm for the group when the majority of the fans were acting that way?

The point is that the Charlotte and surrounding areas, where most of the people come from are full of folks from all walks of life. Many bring their loyalties with them from where they originated. But at what point does a passion you have for a game, a team, a sport, supersede the rights of others to enjoy the game without interruption or aggravation? Maybe the late great Vince Lombardi said it best about what football should be when he said, ""I don't say these things because I believe in the "brute" nature of man or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle — victorious."

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