"My friend walked over me and he said, "Throw the ball up." I did. As I threw the ball up and as soon as he caught it, he said, "You just got DELHOMMED!"'
- from A Season Wasted, A Dream Deferred 1/15/2009
It seems that the pain never goes away. It just lays dormant, waiting to rear its ugly head. With any sports fanatic, the pain can be a mere season away or a mere interception away.
So as I watched this past Saturday’s game, in which the Carolina Panthers (2-4) lost 20-9 to the Buffalo Bills (3-4), I knew it was a matter of seconds that I would come to the conclusion that the Panthers are bound to repeat history unless serious action is taken.
Since 2003, the Panthers have regularly followed a poor season with a spectacular season sprinkled with numerous late season deficiencies.
In 2004, the spring semester of my freshman year, I watched the Panthers take on the New England Patriots. I remember lying on Nancy and Bob’s couch after the Super Bowl Party, pillow over my head and the tears running wild. That season the Panthers were 11-5. The following season Carolina went 7-9. In 2005, they bounced back to an 11-5 record. In 2006 and 2007, they went 8-8 and 7-9. Last year, they were an astounding 12-4. As the season’s record go, the passing of Jake Delhomme follows.
In the season that the Panthers are respectable, Jake Delhomme is in more than MVP form. His two minutes drills seem nothing short of spectacular. His leadership is incalculable. His charisma is at a sky-high level. Delhomme is the guy that we urge John Fox to never get rid of. However, during the Panthers off years, we rethink that premise to keep a struggling QB.
The 2008 season saw Delhomme throw for 3288 yards, complete 59.4% of his passes, accumulate 15 TDs and only 12 interceptions while boasting an 84.7 passer rating. A few months later the Panthers are 2-4 and Delhomme has a passer rating of 56.5, has 4 TDs and a whopping 13 interceptions. He has 1 more interception than he did the prior season, and the season is only half way completed.
Delhomme must be better than history suggests he should be this year. If the Panthers are ever to be something more than just a threat in the NFL, its players, not just its starting QB, must overcome the toils of a fight for the worth of a young organization.
I guarantee they’ll be back next year, but they can no longer afford to take a season vacation every other year. Interceptions are too costly; failure is not an option. We vow the Panthers season will no longer be intercepted. There is a cause beneath a struggling QB and team that is fighting to be something more than just tidbits along the NFL history books.