A few months ago, I somehow accidentally signed up for a free subscription to Sports Illustrated. There have been some good articles, but I’ve mostly become desensitized to getting magazines in the mail since it happens so regularly. I got home from work tonight and saw another magazine in my mailbox and recognized the Panthers black and blue colors, so I immediately thought that it was cool that our boys are being featured again. Once I got inside the house and detached my overly happy-to-see-me dog from my leg, I remembered that my brother and sister gave me the gift of ROAR last Christmas. I just finished reading the latest issue of ROAR, The Official Publication of the Carolina Panthers, and it makes me so incredibly happy to see how supportive of The Roaring Riot the Panthers organization has proven themselves to be. I spent a moment reflecting on what an incredible season this has been, and then I thought about a conference call that I was lucky enough to be a fly on the wall for early in the year when talks were taking place about merging all of the existing Panthers fan groups into one united fanbase. Boy, have we come a long way since then!
Automotive enthusiasts discuss a vehicle’s performance by the amount of time it takes for the car to accelerate from 0-60 MPH. The Roaring Riot has grown from 0-1600 members in less than three-quarters of a year. Nine months. For a widely spread-out fan base to unite across the globe in such a short amount of time is nothing short of incredible, and the team has responded to our efforts by providing us with one of the most exciting times ever in Panthers history. Being a member of Roaring Riot fills me with a sense of belonging and the knowledge that the team hears its fans in the stands, and it’s an extra special feeling this year because this is Roaring Riot’s inaugural year of existence.
A handful of years ago, I lived across the street from the Washington Nationals as the baseball stadium was being built. I was woken up early every day by the sound of jack-hammers and was kept awake late at night while crews worked around the clock to prepare Nationals Ballpark in time for opening day. After giving it much thought and consideration, I decided that all of my sleep deprivation should be rewarded with the coolest piece of memorabilia that I could get from the ballpark’s opening year. I got a job. That’s right, I went and became a part-time ballpark usher because that meant that I could get the coolest thing that I could think of, an employee ID badge from its first year of existence. I was certain I would never be able to have another chance to be at the ground floor with the elevator of opportunity presenting itself to me again, so I was determined to cash in no matter what it took.
I was wrong. Dead wrong! I’m happy I was wrong.
This season has been magical. At the time of this writing, the Panthers are 13-0 and probably asleep in preparation for an early morning of preparations in NY as they get ready to take on the Giants. I read my magazine and couldn’t help but reflect on how great it is being a Panthers fan. I couldn’t help but realize the elevator has opened its doors in front of me again. Being an official member of the Roaring Riot, I have my 2015 membership card in my wallet sitting right across from my Carolina Panthers debit card. Every time I open my wallet, I’m reminded that I am a part of something special. Every time I get together to watch the games with my friends, I’m reminded that I actually have friends! Living between Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC, it’s easy to get swept up in life and not spend time focusing on maintaining your friendships, but I have built-in time every single week to watch football with my friends! Some of these people have become my closest friends and some stay up talking all hours of the night while we work on projects because we are just that excited about the football season. Some of these people I only see when I travel to Florida or Texas or Chicago or New Orleans or Denver… the list goes on for quite a while. I’m in on the ground floor of a network of fans that will soon be second nature for sports announcers to reference during their broadcast, “The Carolina Panthers always travel well, being followed around the nation by the Roaring Riot! I’ve got to ask you, Cam. Did you ever imagine back in your playing days how huge this effort would grow to become? The Panthers have dominated the NFC for the better part of two decades now and it all began with you, a phenomenal team, and this crowd that was somewhat unknown at the time calling themselves Roaring Riot.” Of course, Cam will tell everyone that he knew what was being built and how special it is, and while he does, I will be looking at the wall in my den where, hanging next to my autographed Cam Newton jersey and some photos of me shaking hands with his teammates, will be my Washington Nationals employee ID badge and my 2015 Roaring Riot membership card.
Joining the Roaring Riot and becoming a part of the movement isn’t just about making sure that you always have a place to watch the game with audio and like-minded individuals; it’s also about opportunity. Over time, there will be many, many opportunities presented through the Roaring Riot. Right here, right now, the opportunity presenting itself is probably the only opportunity that you will never have the chance to gain again. Join today so that you can say, “I was there when it all started.” #DoYouRiot