The Carolina Panthers are pounding their way to the biggest game of the season. After last night’s victory against the Arizona Cardinals, the Panthers clinched their ticket to Super Bowl 50.
Richard Johnson, the Director of Athletics at Wofford College, remembers when the Panthers were just an idea from a former Wofford athlete, Jerry Richardson.
“Back in the late 80s, he decided he wanted a football team in the Carolina’s, so he set about to do that, putting on exhibition games…showing the NFL there was a demonstrated need for an NFL team in this market,” Johnson said.
At the time, the thought was that the team would go to Baltimore or Cleveland because both cities had lost their teams.
“Nobody gave the panthers a chance, but coming out of that meeting, it was unanimous that it was the Carolina Panthers,” Johnson said.
Johnson said Richardson was smart to include both of the Carolinas in his plan for a team, making the practice location in the Upstate.
“It truly is one Carolina, and that’s what makes it so special is that two states have bought into this team,” Johnson said.
Now, 21 years later, the team is playing in their second Super Bowl as the only NFC South team to accomplish such a feat. People who work with the team said despite an uncertain beginning to the season that this season would be one to watch.
“One of the coaches told me this is going to be a special group,” said Andy Kiah, who helps run training camp for the Panthers. “I didn’t know what special meant…they started rolling with wins, and you see where we’re at.”
The 2015 Training Camp for the Carolina Panthers had an $8 million economic impact for the city of Spartanburg. There were 78,000 people who visited the Upstate during that time, and 50,000 of those people came specifically for the camp.
Also, every Monday after a Panthers’ victory, Krispy Kreme and Papa John’s stores across the Upstate offer half off deals.
Super Bowl 50
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