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August 01, 2010

Off-field aside: Making the effort


    For months, we've talked about the Carolina Panthers new direction on the field. And we'll get back to football later today, trust me.

    But going into Day 5 of training camp (really, it's only been five?), it's also becoming clear they're working hard off the field.

    Never mind the football, this team is making a conscious and determined effort to be more fan-friendly. Last night's Back to Football Party was a cool experience, with 5,000 people tucked into Gibbs Stadium to watch a scrimmage-like practice. There was a band playing, games for kids, and in general a cozy atmosphere. K John Kasay walked into practice, heard the music and laughed, asking: "Is this Friday night? Are we at a high school game?"

    Later on in practice, was chatting with former DE Mike Rucker, who along with former WR Dwight Stone was signing autographs at the party as part of his continuing role as roving ambassador of Panthers goodwill. Rucker saw a kid with a Panthers paw painted on his face and said: "That kid is a Panthers fan for life."

    That seems to be the goal this summer, to create some momentum in the community as well. The party was the first of a number of promotions they're tying to practice. Today's a Family Fun Day, with activites for kids. They're showing movies after Monday night practices. Players are throwing T-shirts to the crowd on Tuesdays. There's a tailgate party Aug. 14.

    They're also putting new faces out there, and often. If you're a kid at practice, and you don't have the autograph of at least two (and probably all four) quarterbacks, you might be the only one. 

    The ringleader of the effort's clearly new team president Danny Morrison, who's making the rounds in his sparkling new team gear, shaking hands and kissing babies like he's running for governor. 

    Morrison's an impressive presence, as he's been working the crowd each practice, all smiles and "thank yous". He'd check in on sweltering June OTA practices in a jacket and tie, and even down here, his top button's always buttoned. The guy looks like he goes in for pit stops, and the crew hands him freshly ironed shirts. I told him the other day that if I catch him sweating, I'm taking a picture on putting it on twitter. I'm not liking my chances. 

    This isn't to diminish anything that happened before, but it's clear the Panthers are making a concentrated effort to generate a little goodwill. Fan satisfaction's always tied most closely to wins and losses, so if they go 4-12 all the music and free T-shirts won't matter as much.

    But for the moment, the optimism's easy, and the atmosphere is good. They're working hard to make sure it stays that way.

— Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on August 1, 2010 at 10:08 AM | Permalink


Other than being from the Great State Of North Carolina I also love the Panthers because they bring a product we can be proud of. Everything they do to make this team look better is going to draw more and more fans to this team. Watch out when we win the Super Bowl. The Bandwagon is gonna be quite full.

Go Panthers

Posted by: DavethePanther | Aug 1, 2010 10:38:50 AM

This is good news, because outside of the joy of watching the players in action I wouldn't recommend the experience of going to watch them in camp in the past. Certainly not with kids.

They set it up were you had to all cram into the one wedge of shade on the backside or sit on a hill over 100 yards away in direct sunlight. There was a lot of room for improvement on the camp fan experience. The attitude seemed to be; "stay out of the way and if your lucky we might sign some autographs if we feel like it at the end."

Posted by: Sportsdon | Aug 1, 2010 11:32:32 AM

I have always wanted the Panthers to do more things like this and I am very proud of the effort they are putting into it. The teams in the NFL with the most fans do this type of thing alot. The best time to get new fans is when they are young you make them think there is no way any other team out there is better than the panthers. You give things to schools in the Panthers name. You advertise the excitment of being a Panthers fan where ever kids frequent llike parks, schools, ect.. Get Sir Purr to go to a lot of elementary schools. Get the Top Cats to go to the middle schools. Get some players to go to the High schools. You make the kids feel proud to be apart of it all.

Posted by: cboss | Aug 1, 2010 11:35:21 AM

I can never understand fans hating on players that don't feel like signing autographs after practicing in 100 degree weather in full pads for 3 hours. Imagine what your attitude would be like after that kind of torture.

Posted by: Authority | Aug 1, 2010 12:35:33 PM

Here's my two cents from last night. Matt Moore looked pretty good. He threw one interception on what looked to be a deep post run by Dwayne Jarrett. It looked like Matt expected him to curl to the endzone but only the DB followed. Moore threw a 5-7 yard pass to Mike Goodson that was a little too high, and went through his hands. Goodson didn't get a good jump though. Moore also threw a ball to Brandon Lafell in tight coverage that Captain Munnerlyn dove to break up. Lafell looks great right now, but he did slip on the wet field later on and walked off the field a little gingerly. Mike Goodson is all hype. He had a couple nice runs but most of his moves and cuts are made after he obviously would've been tackled. DeAngelo looked great last night. He busted a run that would've been a fifty plus yard TD and also had a nice 25-30 yarder. Greg Hardy has been the most receptive player so far. He made plenty of mistakes but also had some really good moves. He was very vocal and seemed to work very well with the defensive line coach. Jimmy Clausen didn't impress me much at all. He seemed to be a little hesitant. He's throwing things just a hair too late, as if he doesn't trust the WRs to be there just yet. He underthrew a couple balls and took a sack in mixed offense versus mixed defense. Cantwell definitely has the strongest arm but throws a little behind most receivers. Clausen shouldn't have too much trouble beating him out, as I assume he will progress. The defense is definitely behind the offense right now, mainly due to the missing parts. Beason looked great last night but was very loud and vocal about his displeasure during the running/front seven drills.

Posted by: Al | Aug 1, 2010 1:01:09 PM

any plans on covering todays practice?

Posted by: rjk | Aug 1, 2010 4:39:28 PM

goodson carted off...lower leg maybe achilles injury...i'm not at practice and i don't employ anyone who is...good job observer

Posted by: rjk | Aug 1, 2010 4:49:34 PM

Mike Goodson goes down with an ankle injury. Channel 14 news.

Well said Dave, but don't count on this online tabloid to be part of that bandwagon. Apparently, they are dead set on creating their revenues through creating controversy. I like they extra news they have to offer but can't stand the tone. I was hoping it would get better with Gnatt in the house, but the annoyance levels only seem to be increasing with each passing day. Come on Darin, some of the of the ironies in your reporting are not funny and a bit offensive to some fans. You can do the same thing without the sarcasm and still get your message across.

Posted by: SYRPIS | Aug 1, 2010 6:28:12 PM


Since you have the new President's attention, how about ask him to play more replays at the game. Yes we may have to watch 2-3 less commercials, but if the Panthers challenge a call, I'd like to see it on the big screen, not another Bojangles commercial.

Posted by: RTM | Aug 2, 2010 9:42:45 AM

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