What’s wrong in Carolina?

Headline, October 25, 2009, Charlotte, NC. First downs, 20-9. Total yards, 425-167. Time of possession, 35-25. All in favor of the Carolina Panthers. Final score, 20-9, Buffalo Bills. What’s wrong with this picture? We can blame a lot of people in the Panthers organization but I didn’t see very many shinning moments to hope for. The lone exception being DeAngelo Williams and his 139 total yards and one touchdown and that wasn’t really anything to write home about considering he was up against the thirty-second ranked run defense.

Something needs to happen and happen fast. Other teams sit bad performing players all the time. Why arent we doing that here? Because if we did, there would be no one left on the field. Which almost seems to be where they are now. No one seems to be playing with the intention of winning. Sure, they all come out and say that they want to win and that is why they are on the field, but when you look at their game play, you wonder if they really feel it in their hearts. Jake was benched in the first game against the Eagles, but why Coach Fox keeps starting him is a mystery. Oh wait. Maybe it’s that 42 million dollar, five year contract he signed before this season, after the dismal playoff loss to the Cardinals.

I love the Panthers. I’m glad we have an NFL team in Charlotte. I love that we made it to the Superbowl in the first ten years of the teams existence as Jerry Richardson promised. But we have never had back to back winning seasons and from what I have seen through the first six games, it looks like that tradition will remain in tact.

Maybe I will jump on a winning teams bandwagon as some of my other friends have. The Falcons? I used to pull for them before we were blessed with the Panthers. The Bengals? My mom’s family lives in Cincinnati. I can always root for the Bears. I was born in the shadow of the Windy City. Nah, they just got spanked by the aforementioned Bengals. What’s a Panthers fan to do?

I guess I will do what I have done every season after a winning one. Hold my breath, cross my fingers, close my eyes, hope that we come out of the season on some type of high note, and hope for a better season next year.

I had just hoped that next year was this one.

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Defending a NASCAR Champion

Seems almost implausible that a reigning champion from any sport would need defending, but in NASCAR it seems that that is exactly what is needed when talking about Jimmie Johnson.

Why is that? Why do so many dislike JJ? Why do so many scoff at me when I say I am a fan of Number 48? Why do they say I’m a bandwagon jumper?

Is it because he wins so often? Is it that people don’t like consistency? Are they tired of seeing the same person (or team) win all the time?

Well I guess I need to defend myself as well. I’m not a bandwagon jumper. I’ve been a Jimmie fan from day one when he started his Sprint Cup career full time in 2002.

I remember his first win at his home track in Fontana. I remember his first sweep at Dover winning both races that same year becoming the first rookie to EVER sweep races at one track in a season.

He has NEVER been lower than fifth in the final points standing in 7 full seasons and is poised to be there again, if not win his fourth. He was also the first and only rookie to lead the points in 2002.

He has collected no less than 20 top tens each full season he has raced in, including this one. That’s over sixty percent of his 286 races to date. He has a total of 26 DNF’s, less than ten percent.

So why do so many dislike a driver of such high caliber? Is it because he keeps beating their drivers? Gets caught cheating once in awhile? Newsflash, pretty much every driver or team has cheated in one way or another. Has won three Championships in a row? And may win a fourth?

I just don’t understand. Sure I would like to see other drivers win. I am after all a Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex, Jr. fan too.

I’m sure there were folks back a few years ago that loathed Dale Sr. or Richard Petty or Cale Yarborough for their feats on the track. I just don’t understand why people can’t appreciate what is unfolding right in front of them.

Here’s what I think. Jimmie Johnson and the number 48 team is talented. I mean really talented. More so than a lot of other drivers and teams. There are a lot of talented guys and gals in racing. It just seems to me that Jimmie is at the top of his game.

And there isn’t many people up there next to him, and if that’s what’s bugging people, then that’s their loss.