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June 22, 2010

Chandler: Time for me to move on

  The time has come for me to move on.

   It has been an incredible privilege and honor to work at The Charlotte Observer and to cover the Carolina Panthers from the days before they were born. I remember fondly the courageous drive Jerry Richardson forged to bring an NFL team to Charlotte and the Carolinas.

   I've been blessed to cover every season since then, most of them as a beat writer for the Observer. There also were some years when I didn't cover the team on a daily basis but worked on enterprise and investigative projects, such as Patrick Jeffers' lawsuit and the steroids scandal involving Dr. James Shortt of West Columbia, S.C.. There also was coverage of NFL retired players' fierce battle for better benefits against the establishment of the league and the NFL Players Association, which is still ongoing.

   I'll always remember the excitement I felt the first time I saw the Panthers' logo and helmet in 1993, just as league owners were giving a unanimous approval to Richardson's bid for a franchise.

   I grew up loving the NFL and majored in history at East Carolina (Class of '82), so it was right in my "strike zone" to be able to document the historic beginning of the first NFL team in my home state of North Carolina.

   It was a big day when the Panthers played their first exhibition against the fledgling Jacksonville Jaguars in the 1995 Hall of Fame Game, and when their first regular-season game in Atlanta turned out to be a thriller. Who could have imagined that they'd make it to the NFC Championship Game in their second season?

   There were struggles along the way, too, deep growing pains for a new franchise.

   My life is better for having the opportunity to get to know and cover people like Jerry, Mark and Jon Richardson; Mike McCormack; Bill Polian; Dom Capers; Marty Hurney; George Seifert and John Fox, not to mention the countless other people in the organization.

   I've learned so much from all of them and from the players who set a standard for courage, determination, commitment and sacrifice that has continually inspired me. Those guys are true warriors and I tip my hat to them.

   For several years, I've had a stirring in my heart and mind to pursue some new endeavors. I'm a communicator and I plan to continue communicating. I have books already in the works and also hope to vigorously explore multi-media ventures.

   There are also missions opportunities that I find irresistable. My wife and I have a daughter we adopted from Russia. When we visited Russia in 2006, I developed a deep compassion for the people of that country, and I want to help them. I also have the incredible opportunity to travel to Nigeria for a crusade.

   Simply put -- and I don't want to sound overly "religious" here --- I have resigned my job at the Observer effective July 2 because I believe the Lord is calling me elsewhere.

   I hope to have a website up soon so I can still communicate publicly. I'll try to post that on Twitter if you're interested.

   Thanks to all of our readers for your commitment to the Observer and to me. I have experienced great support over the years and sometimes brutal honesty from you, especially on message boards and on-line comments beneath stories or blogs I've written. Many of those have helped sharpen me as a person and journalist.

   I also want to say that I still believe strongly in journalism and the newspaper business. It is essential for this country to have a free press. In the purest sense, this business is about pursuing the truth and telling people things they need to hear and that will inspire them, and being a watchdog to protect the rights of all people, especially the poor, helpless and disenfranchised.

   This is an honorable profession and even though it is in transition, it will and must survive, breaking through soon into its best days ever.

   I wish you all the very best.

   Thanks for everything!
 
   -- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on June 22, 2010 at 04:19 PM | Permalink

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