Saturday, July 28, 2007

Training Camp Hath Begun or My Kind of New Year

Brethren: And oh, don't it feel good.

For the first time since I've moved to the Big Apple not a scant seven weeks ago, I felt this morning like I was back in the North Kakkalak. I woke up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and spent 30 minutes devouring the Charlotte Observer's sports section -- albeit, online. Since 1995, I might not be able to remember all the stories of each individual training camp. But I can always remember the Saturday (usually in a car ride, headed to the Outer Banks) that training camp started. I can remember it because the grass always looked greener, the sun always shone brighter, life always seemed better. And it has happened again here today, boys and girls. Oh, yes, training camp is here. And the Panthers are -- once again -- the team that can change my outlook on life.

Join me in the glory that is the Carolina Panthers, following:

Gone is my anger from earlier in the week. I have let the jealousy and the temptation of the national Deadspin spotlight eek out of me, and with my devouring of the Panthers pages of the Observer and all things Panther on these here interwebs, well, I'm back to the old late July/beginning of August me.

The me who hates when Panthers fans put down Jake. The guy's got passion and swagger that didn't exist in the Carolina organization before he came. I will continue to love and follow that crazy ass Cajun.

The me who gets positively giddy every time he sees or reads anything regarding Steve Smith and Julius Peppers. My favorite football word is "tenacious" -- if I were creating a football player from scratch based only on adjectives, I would absolutely take "tenacious" as my number one pick. I've stopped counting how many times football people have referred to those two football giants as "tenacious" -- I truly believe we have a chance any given Sunday as long as we have those two gentlemen on the field.

The me who has to have the "ya know, I'm feeling excited" convo with my dad, preferably while at the beach, throwing a football. If I knew nothing about the concept of time or seasons or anything, I'm pretty sure once a year, I'd know exactly what time it was, based solely on that convo.

It's football time. It's Panthers time.

Fuck yea.

Nacho: Training camp this year kinda reminds me of that weird psuedo-season Fox aired during the summer for "The OC". They showed, like, three or four episodes, then took it off the air, like they do with every decent program, to make way for the least thrilling specatacle in sports: effing baseball playoffs.

Like I was saying, this year's training camp feels like those first few episodes of "the OC", before school started. John Beason's totally our Ryan, with his checkered past including some antics that would make certain Panther cheerleaders proud. Jake Delhomme is our Seth, cracking wise and relatively harmless, hopelessly pining for a Super Bowl ring, his very own Summer.

I bring this up not because because I've been on vacation all summer and watched the first season in reruns. It's because I truly believe in this team. Like the Bobcats, the Panthers did the best job they could in this year's draft, filling holes and addressing weaknesses. Some help in the defensive backfield still looms, but overall I'm as giddy as a school marm. These Cats have my dander up in much the same way Marissa's drinking habits did oh so many years ago.

Not unlike the Chinese, I celebrate a different sort of New Year's than you slaves to the Julian calendar: and my annual celebration just got started.

Welcome to the 2007-2008 Carolina Panthers' season, y'all.

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