(Note: The header photo is courtesy of @connorcase15 / Twitter)
If you believe random rankings on the Internet — and who doesn’t — Carolina Panther fans are among the most polite of all teams. As a long-time NFL and Panthers fan, I don’t need empirical evidence or statistics to back up this claim.
I know we are polite. We are nice to opposing teams. We look askance at fellow fans who drop F-bombs in the stands and we say “sorry” when we ask others to stand so we can exit our seat.
That’s the way we roll in North Carolina and the QC.
That’s why Panther fans were somewhat flummoxed when Cam Newton ripped down a pro-Packers sign at Bank of America Stadium last Sunday.
We don’t normally do those types of things in North Carolina. We don’t fight in the stands, taunt other fans and we sure as heck don’t throw snowballs at Santa.
Here’s the banner Cam Newton ripped down before the game pic.twitter.com/j4P8dEqz5c
— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) November 9, 2015
Even Cam showed a sense of kindness toward the fans who brought the Packers sign.
“And it’s no disrespect to nobody, it’s more of a respect to the stadium,” he said after the game.
Cam’s only lived in N.C. for five years and he already gets it.
If this was most other NFL stadiums, the sign would have been torn down, the owner of the sign would have been taunted and possibly beaten, and the team would have shrugged.
A history of taking the middle road
For as long as I can remember, North Carolina has been a “middle of the road” state. Yes, we elected Jesse Helms to the Senate for 30 consecutive years, but we mostly tempered his right wing passion with a Democrat as our other senator.
What accounts for our pleasing nature? Perhaps it’s because we are middle of the road when it comes to geography — we’re more north than other Southern states, but still decidedly Southern to the northern states.
Maybe we’re influenced by the dominant color of our state — powder blue. While most other Southern states have fiery state colors like reds, burgundies and oranges, we have the calming Carolina blue.
In the 1970s, a song was written about North Carolina called “I like Calling North Carolina Home.” Its lyrics, sung over soft, poppy chords, begins:
“I like the North Carolina kind of kindness
Laid back living North Carolina style
I like watching kids grow up in a steady pace
On a North Carolina afternoon
Lord it’s just like living in a poem
I like calling North Carolina home.”
Could you see someone singing a song like this about Ohio or Alabama? I think not. Not only are we kind, but we have a special kind of kindness.
A new way?
Things have changed slightly in N.C. — especially Charlotte — over the past 20 years. The influx of new people has meant new attitudes, sometimes bombast, opinionated and pointed and it’s made us all a little bit more crusty.
Cam might have torn down the Packers sign, and had every right to do so, but the Panthers still made amends by by giving the Packers fan money he spent on the sign.
Some things will take longer than others to change, but Cam and Carolina Panther fans standing up for their team might just be a sign of the times.