4. Drop the HammerBetween the 2002 and 2003 seasons, the Carolina Panthers family was hit with some hard news. It affected every facet of the team, from the players' physical health to their mental attitudes, and the fans were also devastated when they heard.
Within two weeks of each other, Panthers linebackers Sam Mills and Mark Fields were diagnosed with intestinal cancer and Hodgkin's disease, respectively.
It was right after that the Panthers organization and fans showed true colors beyond black and blue. It was more than two players fighting horrible diseases; it was two family members who were hurting, and needed support.
The organization stepped up to the plate, however. While most teams would support a stricken player or former player, the Panthers fans, owners, and teammates did all that they possibly could and more, to help and let the two players know that they had people to help them fight however they could.
It was then that Drop the Hammer was formed. Drop the Hammer is a charitable organization that was created to helping to fight cancer, with Mark Fields and Sam Mills both the main focus. Fans donated money to the organization, which supplied T-shirts, towels, and most recently "Keep Pounding" bracelets. The proceeds from these sales went to the organization, which has helped to raise over $200,000 in the two-year campaign to help forward cancer research and cures.
Not only are the fans showing their support with Drop the Hammer articles, the players showed their support during their championship season last year. While most Panther fans are very familiar with the 58/51 shirts the players wore under their jerseys, a lot of the public was uninformed. However, the 58/51 showed through every jersey last year, and it was a way to keep the players closer to the hearts of the players throughout the season, despite strict NFL uniform policies.
Even the New Orleans Saints, a team which Fields and Mills played for earlier in their careers, honored the two linebackers during their games against the Panthers last year, wearing their own version of the 58/51 shirts under their jerseys, and proving that concern and care are greater than the division rivalry, and that football is just a game, but life and respect are so much more.
Both Panthers continue to fight to this day. While Mark Fields was out all of last year to recover, his return to football this season was highlighted by several sacks in the preseason, keeping his promise to return to the form which endeared him to the fans' hearts during the 2002 season. Sam Mills continued to coach throughout the 2003 campaign, despite undergoing chemotherapy. He is still coaching the Panther linebacker corps, proving that his tenacity and perseverance are greater than the disease thrown at him. They continue to fight their battles, but are stronger because of those that continue to fight by their sides.