On November 16th, 1999, former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth made a choice that would not only ruin his NFL playing career, but ruin his life as well. After his 8-month pregnant girlfriend was shot and killed, Carruth was charged with conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to 18-24 years in prison. This is the darkest moment in Carolina Panthers history, changing Jerry Richardson, and his decision-making, for the rest of his life.
There have been a number of guys that I have seen on the trading block/free agency recently that Panthers fans have been very intrigued by. Some of these players, like Desean Jackson, seem like no-brainers in terms of need and fit for a Panthers team in dire need of a quality wide receiver. While players like this would fit on the field, there is something about them that keeps them from ever having a chance of ending up in Charlotte; Character issues.
Since the Carruth incident in ’99, Richardson has done everything in his power to keep the face of his beloved franchise clean. He even went so far as to make sure his future franchise quarterback, Cam Newton, didn’t have any tattoos and kept his appearance clean before he ever even stepped foot an NFL field.
Players like Antonio Cromartie, a social worker’s (click here for more information) dream, who has 10 children with 8 different women in 6 different states has hit the open market a couple of time over his career without ever getting a sniff from the Panthers. He is immensely talented, but in 2010, the NY Jets had to give him a $500,000 just to help him make an outstanding child support payment. It is actions like these that keep the Panthers away.
While we may have missed out on some talented players in the past, and we may miss out on more in the future, you simply do not see the Panthers’ players making the SportsCenter headlines in a negative manner during the off season. They will continue to bring in quality people who double as quality football players, and build a core of men who bring nothing but positivity both on and off the field. The team’s success is made even sweeter by this.
With players like Luke Kuechly, Star Lotulelei and Charles Johnson anchoring their team, the Panthers’ future look very bright, both on and off the field. Go Panthers, Keep Pounding!