I went to the Panthers' final practice of summer school Tuesday and was impressed by something that happened at the end of practice.
John Fox, the Panthers' always-look-forward, one-game-at-a-time head coach, actually told his team to look back. As he addressed the team at the end of practice -- an address I couldn't hear, but that several players and Fox recounted to some extent afterward -- Fox talked about the Arizona game. Here's my column about this subject for Wednesday's paper.
The Arizona game, as you recall, was Carolina's final game of last season (on Jan.10, 2009). Going in, the Panthers were in the NFL's final eight and sitting pretty with a homefield playoff game. Going out, they were humiliated, having lost by 20 points to Arizona.
Fox told the team to remember that game and to let it fuel them. He called the game "the elephant in the room" and said it would be there whether he talked about it or not, so he might as well talk about it.
To me, this was a step forward for Fox. He generally is of the "that game is over, forget about it, we're moving on" philosophy, but is making an exception for this one. I think it's a motivational tactic that will help.
11 months ago