The Panthers are my favorite team for a multitude of reasons, and not all of them have to do with me just attending my first NFL game at then Ericsson Stadium. So, for all the people wondering what this team is about, I've compiled a list of the top 10 reasons to be a Carolina Panthers fan. We will put a new reason up each Tuesday...

">
The Panthers are my favorite team for a multitude of reasons, and not all of them have to do with me just attending my first NFL game at then Ericsson Stadium. So, for all the people wondering what this team is about, I've compiled a list of the top 10 reasons to be a Carolina Panthers fan. We will put a new reason up each Tuesday...

">

10 Reasons to be a Carolina Panther Fan: #10

I've often been asked, "Why are you a Panthers fan?" <br><br>The Panthers are my favorite team for a multitude of reasons, and not all of them have to do with me just attending my first NFL game at then Ericsson Stadium. So, for all the people wondering what this team is about, I've compiled a list of the top 10 reasons to be a Carolina Panthers fan. We will put a new reason up each Tuesday...<br><br>

10. The Carolina Panthers are the best NFL expansion team of all time.

Why not start number 10 early? This is no lie; the Carolina Panthers inaugural year broke more records in the NFL than many care to remember. While many fans and analysts may still treat the Panthers as a small market expansion team, the fact remains that after decades of existence, this team is still the best first year expansion team the league has ever seen, and probably will continue that reign for many more decades to come.

The Carolina Panthers set the bar early, by becoming the first expansion team to ever win its inaugural contest. It was July of 1995, and the Panthers met the Jaguars in the Hall of Fame game in Canton Ohio. The Panthers fought, scratched, and clawed their way to an eventual 20-14 victory, with the fullback Bob Christian scoring the first points for the Panthers.

Not only that, but the Panthers were able to endear themselves to the people of the Carolinas and nation that year. Carolina managed to lose its first five games, but came back on a huge tear, winning seven of their last eleven, and four of those in a row (another expansion record), to finish their inaugural season at 7-9. The Panthers would eventually manage their first regular season win against the New York Jets at Clemson, 26-15, sealed by a Sam Mills interception for a touchdown.

The veteran defense, led by Sam Mills, was as experienced as they came, trying to take the pressure off of a young offense that was to be the future of the team. Frank Reich, engineer of the largest comeback in NFL history, was signed on to mentor rookie Kerry Collins, who eventually became the starter.

The 1995 Carolina Panthers were toughening up, but needed to turn a corner mid-way through the season. The turn around moment that made the year so special was a victory over the defending NFL Champion San Francisco 49ers. The Panthers were able to defeat the 49ers in their own house, becoming the first expansion team in the NFL to defeat the defending Super Bowl Champions.

Other records obtained by the fearsome Cats were the best expansion home record (5-3), and were able to put together one of the league's best defenses, despite the team having never played together a year before.

The NFL didn't seem ready for the Carolina Panthers of 1995. The sister expansion team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, managed a meager 4-12 record coming off of their first season. Other expansion teams never even held a candle to the Panthers, such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who didn't win a single game their first season. Not only did the Panthers finish with the best record for an expansion team, but they were able to put themselves on the radar in a league where dynasties ruled. While in the long run, the Panthers held a statistically losing record, the year was definitely a success. The foundation for the team had been planted, and set several records which may stand until the league is done.

From the very beginning, the fans, the teams, the analysts, and even the league have underestimated the Carolina Panthers, and from the beginning, the Carolina Panthers have been proving their doubters wrong.


Panther Insider Top Stories