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Prior to trying to write this rant, I had no idea there were so many expressions and sayings about foxes, did you?? (Yes, Todd, we know you did.) I was trying to think of some clever headline appropriately utilizing the word “Fox” that I could start this thing out with… some attention grabber that would make you willingly WANT to waste the next 30 minutes of your life reading some jumbled concoction of words (usually in the form of gross references and insults) before you get to the really important words that we all care about: “We’ll be at 208 S. Poplar this Sunday bright and early with beer and food and Big Red in all her unmatched glory… flip-cup… yada-yada-yada…” (Don’t worry. That part’s coming. But this is my week to do the rant, and – by golly – you’re gonna read what I want you to read first, dammit!)
This has obviously been a whirlwind of a week with the eyes and ears of our nation fixated on our television sets and transistor radios and interweb device thingys. A significant set of events and storylines have transpired over recent months and years which culminates in this week’s biggest of big events: the Panthers and Broncos. Really?? What did you expect me to say? Something about an election??? Nonsense. I only discuss the important things in life. So now you quibble: “Haus, how can you honestly say that a Panthers-Broncos football game is more important and more intriguing than an election that will undoubtedly shape the projection of our society?” Well, let me convince you.
Let’s start with the visitors themselves: the Denver Broncos. In case you suffer from Adult ADHD (which I can most assuredly confirm that I have. I just refuse to go get medically diagnosed… because then you have to do regular check-ups, take medications, fill out forms… and that’s just such a pain the ass keeping up with all that stuff… it’s like when you’re at work and your boss keeps telling you to use THIS cover on your TPS reports and it’s such a pain because that one takes like 5 more mouse clicks… SHIT! I did it again… focus, Haus… back to the Broncos and the rant). Well in case you can’t recall last year, the Broncos were a polarizing team. See, they had this guy. His name was Tim Tebow (heard of him?). Timmy tends to make people either want to sanctify him in sainthood or slit their wrists and vomit at the sound of his name. For the life of me, I couldn’t tell you why (sarcasm font). Well, King Elway got the opportunity to kick Ol’ Timmy to the curb (and by “curb”, I mean NYC) and replace him with an even bigger media darling: Peyton Manning (“Tapenade… tapenade and football… ok!”). Now they have their HOF quarterback to go with the rest of the puzzle pieces that, apparently, was just a solid QB away from Super Bowl immortality last year (Tim did get them to the playoffs… and WON a game in the playoffs… funny how that’s conveniently underappreciated). Well, they did start out 2-3 with Mr. Manning… just sayin’. But now they’ve rattled off 3 wins in a row and people are saying things like “Peyton is now Peyton of old” and “Manning v. Manning is a real Super Bowl possibility this year” and other sensationalized malarkey (because the media NEVER does that). But all of Elway’s plans seem to be coming together. This one will be a legitimate test for the Panthers. They’ve got a QB who can put points on the board, a talented defense that can hold their own, and a coaching staff that uses schemes that play to their strengths. And that takes me to my next talking point: their head coach.
For those of you who are what we in the biz call “casual participants of social gatherings” (as opposed to “football fans”… a.k.a. mentally competent people), our previous Head Coach was named John Fox… yes, the same John Fox who now coaches the Denver Broncos (and if you didn't know that, yep, I just called you mentally incompetent… sorry… not really, though… HOORAY BEER!... see, we’re friends again). Anyways, as MOST of you know, John Fox did some good things for us. He racked up 73 wins in his 9 years with us, took us to the playoffs 3 times, won the division those same 3 years, and even won an NFC Championship and took us to the Super Bowl. But certain things he did hurt us. For example, he… nevermind… I can’t do this… THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH JOHN FOX! IT WAS ALL MARTY HURNEY! MARTY HURNEY IS THE DEVIL! BAN THAT MAN FROM STEPPING FOOT IN ANY PART OF THE CAROLINAS! IT WAS MARTY’S STUPIDITY IN GENERAL MANAGING THAT LEFT FOXY WITH THAT AWFUL CAST OF CHARACTERS THAT WENT 2-14! AND IT WAS MARTY WHO CONTINUED TO MIRE THIS ORGANIZATION SINCE FOXY’S DEPARTURE! Phew! Had to get that out. Sorry about that. Settle down now, Haus… Well, Marty Hurney is gone now. But just like that gross, yellow discharge you-know-where because you did you-know-what to you-know-who, you’re gonna be stuck with those gross after-effects for a little while until the antibiotics kick in. We definitely have some gross, yellow discharge (and I definitely meant the Panthers, not me). But we’re trying different remedies and certain things seem to be working. And that leads me to my final talking point… our team: the Carolina Panthers.
When people ask me what I went to college for, I typically tell them to get drunk, occasionally inhale, and play hide the flashlight with chicks who also were there to get drunk and occasionally inhale. Once people finish with their obligatory chuckle at that stale joke, I tell them I really went to school for expectation management. This causes another even weirder obligatory chuckle because they can’t tell if I was making another joke or trying to be funny or what. I usually have to reiterate that I majored in expectation management, which I then have to explain. You see, 90% of life is expectations… you either meet them or you don’t (the other 10% is statistics). But the good part about expectations is that, if you’re good, you can learn to manipulate them so that you’re always coming out smelling like Kate Upton’s… well… anything. In other words, you always meet expectations because you managed what those expectations were. You always look like a rockstar. So you’re probably asking yourself “Haus, what the fuck does this have to do with the Panthers?” (And I know you’re asking this because I’m asking myself this right now.) Good question. See the 2012 Panthers are an example of how NOT to manage expectations. They followed up a PATHETIC 2-14 season with a 6-10 season last year. There was plenty of optimism to go around. I mean, Christ, they tripled their win total from the previous year. But even more importantly was HOW they did it. Throughout the 2011 season, they compiled the most explosive offense in the league (and before Packers, Saints, and Patriots fans castrate me, “most explosive” is defined here as most plays from scrimmage over 20 yards… which makes my statement factual). That’s a far cry from the 2-win team in 2010 that was DFL (dead fucking last) in the NFL in this category. They also had a kid who came in with TERRIBLE expectations, and only ended up posting the best statistical season Elias Sporting Bureau had ever seen for a rookie quarterback (see? good expectation management). So for 2012, get us a defense that could stop a nose bleed and there’s NO WAY we don’t make the playoffs. Well, that’s Exhibit A of poor expectation management. There were obviously some residual gaping holes from the past two seasons that have prevented the Panthers from taking off like we all thought. (Offensive line, I’m looking at you… and not because you’re opening gaping holes… because you ARE a gaping hole.) The Panthers obviously have NOT lived up to expectations. So midway through the season, the media and fan base have all gone berserk… haters have come out of the woodworks, Cam Newton is incapable of tying his cleats on his own without getting mental and emotional counseling to do so, and Jerry Richardson is gonna sell his franchise to Los Angeles… all of which is a bunch of crap. You know how I know this? Just ask the Washington Redskins fan base… go ahead, ask ‘em… their numbers are 704-576-9146 (a very eligible Matt Waters – disease free and a connoisseur of fine wines, 18th century art, and deli meats) and 804-938-6555 (a not-so-eligible Drew Smith – effortless golf swing and proficient at changing diapers). See the Skins thought they had the new best thing. They thought this RG3 kid was what Cam Newton was REALLY supposed to be. Well we know what happened next. Cam and the offense played a solid game and the defense… WHOA!... the DEFENSE put the clamps on Lil’ Griff. And it’s the DEFENSE that’s showing signs of life of being a unit that can be relied on. If you would've told me before the season started that we’d have a defensive unit that could hold teams under 20 points/game (which, with the exception of a few games early, they have… especially in the last 4 games), I would've told you I’m more than excited… almost to the level of confidence. So it's there. Now the offense just needs to get back to form. And in both the Bears and Skins games, they’ve started to show signs of life. Now they have an opportunity to take a step forward against a good opponent in the Broncos… (earmuffs)… WE (the Panthers) NEED THIS! WE (the Panthers fans) NEED THIS! HELL, I NEED THIS! I AM SICK AND FUCKING TIRED OF LOSING! THERE’S TALENT OUT THERE ON THE FIELD, NOW FUCKING USE IT! 8 GAMES INTO THE SEASON AND WE’RE DFL IN THE NFC! I CAN’T ACCEPT THAT! I WON’T ACCEPT THAT! NOW WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY OVER THE NEXT 8 GAMES TO MAKE A STATEMENT… A STATEMENT THAT SAYS “YOU BETTER TAKE NOTICE BECAUSE THE PANTHERS ARE STARTING TO GET THIS SHIT FIGURED OUT!” AND THAT STATEMENT STARTS THIS SUNDAY AGAINST THE BRONCOS! LET’S GO, BOYS!... sorry about that. I got a little emotional. I’ll simmer down now… Namaste, or something.
So as you can see, this isn’t just any normal football game. This is a football game lathered in importance… if nothing else, because we haven’t had a home game in 3 weeks and – hence – been deprived of tailgating. So, without further adieu (Jason, queue the tailgate music… no, not your Natalie Imbruglia playlist… and, no, not Travis’s West Coast Villains Remix… the TAILGATE MUSIC… ok, there… yeah, that’s it):
We’ll be at 208 S. Poplar (it’s really 3rd St between S. Poplar and Mint) this Sunday bright and early with beer and food and Big Red in all her unmatched glory. There’ll obviously be some flip-cup, where apparently the Gentlemen have graciously spotted the Ladies a few W’s this season. (Not to worry, folks. Judging by the influx in children and on-the-way-children, the Fellas are a bunch of “finishers”… HAH. Now that’s funny. I don’t care who you are.) I've been told there’ll be some Rocky Mountain Oysters being served up in honor of our visiting guests, and Waters may or may not be participating in an exhibition of stupidity that’ll leave him shitting fire for the better part of next week. Bring your passion for food, drink, and the Panthers, and let’s get a win this week! (2 in a row… would almost be a winning streak!...)
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