Super Bowl 38

May 18, 2009
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Looking back on the Carolina Panthers historic run through the 2003 playoffs seems like a whole lifetime ago. At the time that the Panthers season began, I had merely aged fourteen years. The second semester of sixth grade had just begun. The heart pounding action of the games still breezes occasionally through my head, as does the thought that determination and spirit can carry anyone through obscurity and onwards to triumph. The Super Bowl battle against the New England Patriots showed all that the Panthers stood for to me. However, if I had never watched this football game, I would probably pay little any attention to football at all. After watching the intensity of the players, the spirit that each team possessed, and the heart stopping finale, my life changed forever. I became a football zealot.

That season I had wanted to enlist in the Panther’s fan base after seeing the elation football evoked from all my friends who followed their favorite teams every Sunday. However Sunday after Sunday rolled past, and I continually had to work on projects and business matters other than supporting the hometown team. By the time the Super Bowl rolled around, the Panthers stood atop the conference as champions. In two weeks they would play for the opportunity to hoist the Lombardi trophy over their heads as champions of the league. My final opportunity to sit down and watch the Panthers from start to finish sat just two weeks away.

The day leading up to the big game seemed completely different than any other Sunday. My whole world buzzed with the excitement the game created. All of my friends talked of who they felt would triumph at the end of the showdown. Personally, I believed whole-heartedly that my newfound team would trample the “overrated” Patriots.
For dinner I overindulged with pizza, barbeque, and wings, all my favorite foods. During a pregame analysis on television, I finished my remaining homework. When the last bit of homework lay conquered before me, I sat impatiently waiting for the start of the game. At 6:25 p.m. the face-off began.

The first quarter of the game showed the world that these two teams were truly evenly matched. The bruising defenses that both teams had become known for smothered the still impressive offenses of the other team. As the first quarter came to a close, I knew the Panthers had a lot of work to do in the remaining three quarters to be able to take the trophy home to Charlotte.
The second quarter changed remarkably from the first, instead of defensive shutdown, the teams unleashed their offensive prowess. I danced like boy who had recently consumed a pound of sugar when Steve Smith raced into the end zone for the Panthers first score. However my elation died as quickly as it had come, for Tom Brady threw a bomb of a touchdown pass to his receiver to propel the Patriots into the lead right before halftime.
The third quarter reminded the audience of the first quarter, with the defense’s slamming down the opposing offenses. Anxiously I sat on the edge of my sofa soaking in every second of what I felt must certainly go down in history as the greatest football game ever played. With only one quarter of football left to play, I felt certain my team would pull out one of their now routine fourth quarter comebacks. I crumpled to the floor in complete shock, speechless as Muhammad caught an 85-yard touchdown pass when all hope seemed lost. My team exploded into the fourth quarter with an enormous bang. My heart jumped with the passion of the game as Ricky Proehl put the Panthers ahead for the first time in the entire game with just over two minutes remaining. When John Kasay’s kickoff sailed out of bounds and gave Tom Brady the ball at the forty yard line, I grew fretful. But, I knew for sure that the Panthers would prevail and wear their championship proud.
In a matter of a few short minutes however my view drastically changed. My soul blazed with agony as I saw Vinateri’s kick soar through the field goal post and the final few seconds tick off the clock. The shock of defeat blasted me into a crumpled heap of grief on the floor. My entire world came crashing down around me. Everyone who watched the game with me sat silently, perhaps paying homage to the great game the Panthers just played. Others, like one annoying, stuck-up Patriots fan who sat in the corner, for fear of what might happen to him if he dared to vocally support his team, enjoyed a moment of pure bliss.
At home I prepared for bed and quickly fell into a deep snooze to escape the anguish and mourning that now enveloped my entire being. I could not imagine the thoughts rushing through those player’s minds whose whole season now meant nothing because of one mere failure. The pain from the loss faded with time, but, my appetite for football remained pushing aside my temporary grief. I had a fever and the only prescription was more football.

Despite occurring five years ago, I can still remember Super Bowl XXXVIII as though it happened yesterday. Nowadays I consider the watching of this single football game as one of the great turning points in my life. Had I not experienced this game, my life would have continued without the presence of America’s greatest sport, football. At the time I witnessed the game I had no knowledge of the fulfillment that football would bring to my life. No man-made device could measure my level of gratification. The past five years of enjoying stellar football has coincided with a remarkable increase in my happiness. I would not have my life unfold in any other way.





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