The Year of the Cat

Overview

Nineteen-ninety-six was a glorious season for the Carolina Panthers. They went 12-4, won all their home games at Ericsson Stadium, and in just the second season of their existence, beat the San Francisco 49ers twice and knocked the defending Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys out of the playoffs. The Panthers' unprecedented playoff run was eventually derailed by the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game, but not before Carolina had already established themselves as part of the NFL's elite. ...

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Overview

Nineteen-ninety-six was a glorious season for the Carolina Panthers. They went 12-4, won all their home games at Ericsson Stadium, and in just the second season of their existence, beat the San Francisco 49ers twice and knocked the defending Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys out of the playoffs. The Panthers' unprecedented playoff run was eventually derailed by the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game, but not before Carolina had already established themselves as part of the NFL's elite. Nineteen-ninety-six was the year the Panthers made a name for themselves nationwide. It was the year of the cat.

When Panthers' owner Jerry Richardson announced to the world in 1993 that Carolina would win a Super Bowl within ten years of their first season, many thought he was speaking out of turn. But after Carolina's stunning second-season success, his prediction seems conservative. With Richardson, general manager Bill Polian, and head coach Dom Capers, the Panthers have franchise-builders who can keep the team atop the NFC West for years to come.

In Year of the Cat, award-winning journalists Scott Fowler and Charles Chandler go behind the scenes to explore Carolina's successful second season, and in doing so paint a vivid portrait of the players, the coaches, and the personalities that gave the team its identity and its first shot at winning an NFC championship: franchise player Kerry Collins, the Generation X, hard-throwing, hard-partying quarterback whose off-the- field behavior sparked controversy at a team meeting that turned the Panthers' season around; Kevin Greene and Lamar Lathon — "Salt & Pepper" — two ornery All-Pro linebackers whose distinct differences off the field translated into immediate success on it; Bill Polian, the fiery GM whose hard-nosed negotiations and astute football knowledge helped piece together a winning combination in the Carolinas; Wesley Walls, the good ol' southern boy from Pontotoc, Mississippi, whose lilting drawl and exciting play gave Carolina fans something to root for; Eric Davis and Sam Mills, the perceptive veterans and locker-room leaders whose defensive performances sparked many to emulate their inspired play; and Dom Capers, the meticulous, obsessive coach whose game strategy and leadership brought the fledgling franchise to the brink of the Super Bowl.

Like any team and any franchise, the Carolina Panthers had their ups and downs: from the Reverend Billy Graham's inspiring dedication of Ericsson Stadium to the suspension of center Curtis Whitley for a drug-abuse problem that was never fully revealed until now, Fowler and Chandler chronicle the ins and outs of the Panthers' second season. From the sweltering heat of the Carolinas to the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, Year of the Cat is the inside story of the meteoric rise of the NFL's most beloved new franchise. Told with the wit, candor, and unflinching charm that have captivated the readers of The Charlotte Observer for two NFL seasons, Year of the Cat is a football fanõs dream and a Carolina fanõs keepsake.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Year of the Cat is a must-read for Panthers fans. Since I now live in Charlotte, I've had the opportunity to watch Dom Capers bring this young football team to the top of their game. Scott Fowler and Charles Chandler do a great job providing a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at Carolina's success." — Joe Gibbs, three-time Super Bowl winner and current NBC-TV NFL analyst

"If you like pro football, if you like the Carolina Panthers, and if you like good reporting, you'll like this book very much." — John Feinstein, author of A Civil War and A Good Walk Spoiled

"Even the most rabid Panthers fan will find things he didn't know. From team-meeting revelations to Dom Capers's pre-playoff game speech to a key player's hidden problem, Year of the Cat gives a terrific inside look at one of the NFL's rising-star teams." — Peter King, Sports Illustrated and CNNSI

"The overnight success of the Carolina Panthers is one of the NFL's most compelling stories of the last ten years. Scott Fowler and Charles Chandler give us a real insider's look at how it was done." — Chris Mortensen, ESPN

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This title might more accurately be called the Year of the Expansion Teams, because both the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars (see Jags to Riches, by Scott Fowler and Charles Chandler, in Forecasts, August 11), who entered the National Football League in 1995, came within one game of going to the Super Bowl in their respective divisions. But while the Jaguars barely squeaked into the playoffs with a 9-7 record, the Panthers went 12-4 and, including their playoff win against Dallas, ended their year with eight straight victories. Fowler and Chandler covered the team for the Charlotte Observer, and, although they present the requisite game-by-game analysis knowledgeably and fairly, not hesitating to identify a flub as such by one of the hometown players, the book's greatest strength is showing the role ego plays among top athletes. Some are openly cocky, like linebacker Lamar Lathon and quarterback Terry Collins, while the authors maintain that others cloak their hubris behind a show of introversion or religiously inspired humility. But there lies a key to the Panthers' success: they submerged their egotism for the good of the team, stress the authors. Their unusual take will give fans an interesting read. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416577980
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 9/21/2007
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,136,901
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Fowler and Charles Chandler are award-winning reporters
who have covered the Carolina Panthers for The Charlotte Observer
since the team's inception. They both reside in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Scott Fowler and Charles Chandler are award-winning reporters
who have covered the Carolina Panthers for The Charlotte Observer
since the team's inception. They both reside in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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