Category Archives: NFL

Carolina Panther Game Days holds Tradition Unlike Any Other

Jackson Kaplan, Staff Writer

Since the year 1996 when the fall season hits the Carolinas, residents of Charlotte and surrounding communities will gather inside the 75,412-seat Bank of America Stadium to enjoy a chill afternoon of Carolina Panthers football. Bank of America Stadium is a popular destination for fans from all over the region, including college students who are looking for a great time.

Students from UNC Charlotte, Wingate University, Queens University of Charlotte, Belmont Abbey College, Catawba College and other institutions from around the area can come take a break from their studies to watch classic NFL football game. While many fans buy a ticket, park and walk straight into the stadium, other football fanatics form their own game day traditions.

One notable, classic Sunday tradition is tailgating before a game. Fans gather with their friends and family in parking lots to grill food, have some drinks, listen to music and socialize before entering the stadium. Other Panthers fans may have a favorite restaurant in Uptown Charlotte they like to visit before every game.

Being a student at Wingate University and not having much money to spend can be difficult to be able to afford a ticket for the game. Ticket prices for National Football League games are very expensive, especially for decent seats in the stadium. Despite my father and I being Patriot fans, we enjoy going to an occasional Panthers game together.

NFL football is enjoyable to watch no matter if your favorite team is out on the field or not. About twice a year during the fall season, my father comes to visit from Raleigh to spend time with me and see a Panthers game.

Uptown Charlotte is one of my favorite places and it is always fun to experience the atmosphere on a game day. My father and I have always shared a special bond with sports, so we tend to make the most of every opportunity that we have the chance to get together.

My dad and I enjoy eating at the big Carolina Ale House in Uptown Charlotte before every game we have the opportunity to attend. It is only a few blocks away from the stadium and it has a great atmosphere for sports fans. Courtyard Hooligans is another cool joint as well.

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Photo source: Carolina Panthers Fanzone page

There are multiple fun aspects to the Carolina Panthers game day experience. The Panthers Lair is a popular game day spot for fans to get them pumped up before kick-off. The lair is a free, pregame festivity open to the public that features interactive games, sponsor giveaways, food trucks and a DJ.

For younger fans, the team offers “Panthers in the Park” which is a pregame interactive area featuring hands-on football drills, meeting Panthers cheerleaders and the mascot. In addition, there is Sir Purr’s Play Den where kids can play on an artificial turf field and play many other football-related games. I used to enjoy these different activities when I went to Panthers games as a kid.

Students enjoy making the short drive up East Independence Boulevard with a group of friends to enjoy a game and relieve all the stress from school in one fun day. During NFL football season, Panthers games is the place to be for college students all around the surrounding Union and Mecklenburg county areas.

Edited by: Brea Childs

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Former Panthers Player Shocks Panthers Fans

Emma Mowers, Staff Writer

Remember when Julius Peppers played for the Carolina Panthers? A hometown boy from Wilson, North Carolina. Peppers played college football at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was a unanimous All-American. He also spent 8 years as a defensive player for the Panthers before going on to play for the Chicago Bears. Peppers now plays for the Green Bay Packers but he still has a history with the Panthers, however he never had the chance to play under Cam Newton.

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On Sunday, November 8, 2015 in the Bank of America stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Packers took on the undefeated Panthers. The Packers went into this game knowing it would be a challenge.

In the second quarter, after Newton scored a touchdown, the former Panthers player- and Packers defensive end- Julius Peppers took the football from Newton and tossed it to the other side of the end zone to a ball boy. Cam Newton then retrieved the ball and handed it to one lucky Panthers fan, Colin Toler.

Many of the people in attendance at the game saw what happened. Cassie Barringer, senior at Wingate University, was sitting in an aisle seat in section 226 and vividly saw Peppers take the ball from Newton after he scored. “I was shocked at first and thought – did he really just do that?” said Barringer.

Newton has made this a tradition following a Panthers touchdown, as many football fans have seen. Although, no one knew at the time that Colin, who received the touchdown football, had recently lost his father. Barringer said, “I had no idea that was the boy whose father had passed away. I don’t think a lot of people did.”Some say it was God looking down on Toler.

Usually Newton takes the ball to the middle of the stands in the end zone to give it away, but if it had not been for Peppers taking the ball from Newton and throwing it across the field, Newton would not have gone after the ball. This led Newton to section 105 near the corner tunnel exit; where Toler was seated. Colin’s Grandfather brought him to his first NFL game, to fulfill a promise that his father, Benjamin Toler, had made before he passed on Sept. 30 due to a heart condition.

Following the release of the story, Colin became a social media hit. Giving away footballs is not unusual for Cam Newton. He has been doing this since 2011, after every Carolina touchdown. Newton calls it his “Sunday Giveaway” program. Although it was ironic for Newton to give the ball to Toler, because Newton was not aware of why Toler was there.

After interviewers spoke to Colin Toler’s mother, they found out that Toler’s father also had a connection with Julius Peppers. Toler’s father was in Greensboro, North Carolina for the NCAA basketball regional. Peppers, who then played for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was playing tournament. Benjamin Toler was standing near the exit to the court when Julius Peppers tossed his wristbands to him after a game.

Irony and luck is what happened to Colin Toler. With the holidays right around the corner, we need to remember to be thankful for what we have; family, friends, jobs and our health. Keith Hall, father of senior Wingate student, Sydney Hall, attended the game as well and had another interesting point to add. “The players wore initials of fallen soldiers and during half time they presented jerseys to the families.” said Hall.

Edited by Rob Gay and Kyndra Sanden