I must admit that I’m not the world’s biggest Carolina Panthers’ fan. When they came into the NFL in 1995, I was more interested in rooting for their fellow expansion companion, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although geographically I lived closer to Charlotte than Jacksonville.
I don’t even remember why I liked Jacksonville more, I think it was because most people in the area hopped on the Panthers bandwagon and I wanted to be different. Of course, I was in a bit of a conundrum because Jacksonville played in the AFC with Buffalo. So I always took that one on the chin when they played, even though I couldn’t root against the Bills.
I never paid much attention to the Panthers because they always seemed like the Jags’ little brother for so many years. They always seemed to take their lumps in the NFC, but the Jags found their way through the AFC and found success. What I did know about the Panthers was that they had Sir Purr for a mascot (Giant Panther!) and in 2004 built a giant stadium in downtown Charlotte known as Bank of America stadium.
That all changed in 2011 when they drafted Auburn Quarterback Cameron Newton, or Cam, to lead the team. Suddenly the NFL was put on notice that the Panthers weren’t going to be pushed around anymore. The team took on a new dynamic that was seen almost immediately. He threw for over 4,000 yards in his first season with the Panthers and he lead them to the playoffs in 2013 and 2014. His list of accomplishments would fill up columns of pages. Looking at the list, I’m impressed and it’s more than I realized, he’s an incredible player and I never realized how amazing.
Carolina started the 2015 season 7-0 and came into their week 8 game against the Green Bay Packers at Bank of America stadium looking to prove they were the ones to beat in the NFC. As many NFL fans know, one of the most popular teams in the NFL is the Green Bay Packers with “Cheeseheads” all over the country from Florida to Washington.
Prior to the start of the November 8, 2015 game, Newton spotted a group of Green Bay fans with a banner reading “North Carolina Cheesehead” and the giant G logo of Green Bay over the outline of North Carolina in green. According to the owner of the sign, Mike Dobs of Fayetteville, NC, Cam came over and pulled the banner down and took it back to the locker room with him. Dobs was shocked by what happened as one can imagine and he told security about what happened. BOA Stadium does have a rule about signs and it follows:
“No banners or flags expressing support of visiting teams may be affixed to or displayed on any surface. Hand held signs or posters that are in compliance with the balance of this policy are acceptable.”
The Charlotte Observer reported that Dobs imagined “when Cam ran up, we thought he was going to talk to us, or even sign our banner,” which was 8 foot by 3 foot. “I’d like an apology from Cam Newton for one thing.”
I’ll go so far as to say I’ve never been a Cam Newton fan. I’m not big on Auburn and I’ve never been impressed by his Superman touchdown celebration. However, for someone who is leading this team and is a team captain he’s coming out and ripping down a banner and saying that the Panthers aren’t going to get pushed around by anyone.
Yes, the Packers are the traditional name of power in the NFC and the Panthers are not. Yes, Aaron Rodgers is the traditional name of the MVP quarterback in the NFL and Cam Newton is not. Yes, Lambeau Field is the place no one wants to play and Bank of America Stadium is not. But Cam Newton was trying to change that with one swipe of the wrist.
I don’t know if legally he was right or wrong, I know Mike Dobs has filed a police report against Newton and wants $500 to replace the banner that was taken from him. I’m confused as to why Newton would sign the banner, seeing as it was a “Cheesehead” banner and he’s clearly a Panther. As a Packer fan, I can’t understand why you would want a Panther to sign your banner either.
There’s also a couple of questions here as well. It seems that Dobs and his group were in the lower section by the goalposts according to his quotes attributed to the Charlotte Observer web site. He claims that when Newton came over he pulled the banner out of their hands. There is probably six feet from the grass to a rail where the lower bowl begins that the Dobs group would have to be standing. If they were standing with this banner as opposed it being tied to or flying from the end of the lower bowl then maybe he would be liable for taking it and paying it back. But I haven’t seen anything about him jumping up and ripping it down.
As for getting your money back, what possesses you to bring a $500 banner to a game? What if one of the Packers had jumped into it and ripped it? Would you have sued the Packer player? Would you have complained to Carolina? I don’t believe it was the most appropriate place to bring a sign like this.
It comes down to respect to me and I don’t believe Dobs respected Carolina or the Bank of America Stadium. I think if a Carolina fan did this at Lambeau it would be a non-starter and it would not have gotten any attention at all. You can bet that sign would have gotten ripped down faster than you can say “Jack Robinson.” It’s like going to someone’s house and wearing muddy shoes all over their freshly installed carpet. If the policy says that you can bring a hand sign, bring a hand sign. You can wear all your Packer stuff and bring a hand sign, but this is the HOME of the Panthers. If you want to take your “Cheesehead” sign to Lambeau, then you are at the right place. There needs to be a seperation. We need to create places for fans of teams where they can have their own signs and I think Bank of America Stadium is trying to enforce that. I know Cam Newton is trying to create that aura of respect and that attitude that BOA Stadium is home to Panthers fans and I respect him so much more for that.