The Carolina Panthers play in the National Football Conference (NFC) and the South Division of the NFL. The Panthers, an expansion team that was founded in 1995, are owned by Jerry Richardson and call Charlotte, North Carolina, home. Richardson, a former player for the Baltimore Colts, first began working on bringing a professional football franchise to Charlotte in 1987. The club’s training camp is at Wofford College, which is located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. From 1995-2001, the Panthers played in the NFC West, becoming members of the NFC South in 2002 after the league restructured divisions.
The Panthers have won two division championships—the NFC West (1996) and NFC South (2003). In 2003, the team earned the nickname the “Cardiac Cats” because of their many last second victories. The Cats entered the post-season as a Wild Club team. In the playoffs, they beat the Dallas Cowboys 29-10 to move onto the Division Playoff contest. They managed a 29-23-overtime win against the St. Louis Rams to win the division.
After beating the Philadelphia Eagles 14-3 to take the conference crown, the Panthers qualified for Super Bowl XXXVI. In that game, they played and lost to the New England Patriots 32-29 on a last second field goal by Adam Vinatirri.
In 2004, numerous handicappers and sportswriters projected that Carolina, having retained its core players and added more talent, would repeat as conference champs, but that did not happen. In their first eight games, they were 1-7. They finished the year at 7-9 barely missing the post-season.
The Carolina Panthers were in the playoffs again in 2005 as a Wild Card club. They beat the New York Giants 23-0 in round one and won the divisional game 29-21 against the Chicago Bears. The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Panthers 34-14 in the NFC Championship game. The team has not been to the post-season since 2005.
The only player that the Panthers have in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is defensive end Reggie White. But White, who ended his 16-year career with 1,112 tackles, 198 sacks and 3 interceptions, played with the Cats only in 2000, which was his final professional season.
The team, whose mascot is the larger-than-human panther Sir Purr, presently plays their home games at Bank of America Stadium, which from 1996-2004 was named Ericsson Stadium. In their first season, Carolina played at Memorial Stadium, Clemson. Richardson is still the club’s owner. Marty Hurney serves as general manager and John Fox is entering his seventh season as the Panthers head coach.