Thursday, August 2, 2012
John Isner signing autographs for fans earlier this week during the Olympic tournament at Wimbledon.
WIMBLEDON, England -- I’ve written before about how big a Panther fan John Isner is – his Sundays truly revolve around the team in the fall.
Isner has been to more than 20 Panther games in person and he sometimes watches their games on his laptop at 3 a.m. at tournaments in Asia or Europe. He and Steve Smith are close friends.
But this may give you the best idea of how closely he follows the team. I watched Isner lose a close Olympic quarterfinal match to Roger Federer Thursday in preparation for a column I am writing for Friday's newspaper. Great match, well-played -- but Isner lost, 6-4, 7-6, and he got a terrible break at the end when a net-cord winner from Federer dribbled over on match point.
So Isner remembers me from this column since we once talked Panthers for a long time at a tennis tournament in Winston-Salem. And the first question Isner asks me when I see him after this match is: “What’s the deal with Jeff Otah?”
“I think they’re going to have to cut him,” I replied.
“No doubt,” Isner said. “They have to after all that.”
And then a few hours later, the Panthers did.
That was definitely the first time I’ve heard Otah’s name uttered at the Olympics. But Isner knew the entire story about the Otah trade that suddenly wasn’t. He said he has been religiously following the team’s training camp in Spartanburg from England, mostly through Twitter.
Now that is a true Panthers fan.