Know thy enemy…
The Panthers story started in 1987 when Jerry Richardson announced his bid for a franchise in the Carolinas. Richardson was a former wide receiver with the Colts who used his 1959 league championship bonus to start the Hardee’s restaurant chain.
The Panthers logo was shaped to mimic the outline of North and South Carolina. The blue in their uniforms is called “process blue”. Whatever that is.
The Panthers first played in 1995. They played their first season at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina while their facilities in Charlotte, North Carolina were built. Dom Capers was hired to coach, and they’d go 7-9 their first year, the best ever for an expansion team. They’d follow this up with a 12-4 record and make it to the Conference Championship game. The then dropped to 7-9, followed by 4-12 and Capers dismissal.
The next coaching victim would be George Seifert, of 49er fame. He’d last three years finishing with a 1-15 record. This record setting season set a record for most losses in a season, as well as most consecutive losses. Fortunately, the 2008 Lions would wipe those records off the books.
In 2002 the NFL realigned the divisions and John Fox took over coaching. They rebounded to a 7-9 record with a strong defense, but a weak offense. The following year they went 11-5 and made it to the Super Bowl. The next year they were back to 7-9.
In 2004, they bounced back to 11-5, but lost in the Conference Championship, then hover around .500 for a couple of years before plummeting to 2-14 with the worse offense in the league and Fox’s dismissal. Ron Rivera was brought in to coach in 2010, and they drafted Cam Newton with the first pick. They’d finish 6-10 that year.
Finally in 2013 Rivera posted a winning record, 12-4 but lost in the first game of the playoffs. They’d go 7-8-1 the next year, and follow that up with a 15-1 record in 2015, losing in the super bowl.
In 2018 the team was purchased by David Tepper, a former minority owner of the Steelers for $2.3 billion, a record price for a team. The team would go 7-9 that year and 5-11 in 2019. Rivera was fired toward the end of the season. Matt Rhule was hired to replace him, and would post an identical 5-11 record his first year.
That’s it. A pretty short history for a team that hasn’t been around too long.