I had Sunday off. It was a strange phenomenon. I had attended and written about Carolina's previous seven games.
As much as I like going on the road with the Panthers, I loved waking up Sunday morning and realizing I didn't have to work. I could eat slowly, read the paper and walk dogs without looking at my watch.
I could monitor my Fantasy Football team, which failed to make the real playoffs and is competing in the loser's bracket. I could hit the gym and the coffee shop and still catch the opening kickoff.
I don't listen to the network feed when I'm covering a game because I don't want to be influenced by the announcers. I don't think Todd Boselli's opinions would have influenced me Sunday, but his cliches might have.
"This is a must-win situation, Tom."
"Right you are, Biff."
He might have said, must-win. He might have said, "Jacksonville has the edge on paper but this game isn't played on paper."
Right you are.
And why do people insist on talking about Carolina's playoff possibilities? If this team qualifies for the playoffs, the NFC should be eliminated.
The Panthers 2007 team motto: We Are, Too, Better than San Francisco.
In the third quarter, I could take no more. I went outside with the dogs. Than I felt guilty and was lured back in. Interception. Eighty-yard touchdown run. Late unnecessary field goal. Outside beckoned.
There were two surprises Sunday. The first was Phil Simms. That guy is angry. He rails against the players who make the Pro Bowl because of the publicity they get and then refuses to name them. Simms wasn't pretending to be mad. He is an angry man. You could introduce him as, Angry Phil Simms. One of these Sundays, he will blow up on national TV.
The second surprise was that, as hard as I tried, I could not make my Sunday last. You know the feeling.