The Carolina Panthers have played football for more than 17 seasons now. Only twice have they lost home games by 19-14, which is an odd final score that rarely comes up in football.
But after both of those games, Panthers owner and founder Jerry Richardson did something very dramatic, and in both cases things ultimately did not end well for some of those high up in the organization.
You know about the most recent one. After the Panthers lost 19-14 Sunday to Dallas, Richardson fired general manager Marty Hurney Monday morning. Hurney had been with the Panthers since 1998, had been the GM since 2002 and was as close to Richardson as anyone in the organization. But Richardson was fed up and decided he couldn't take any more, which means that everything is on the table now.
The other time? In the 1998 season opener, the Panthers lost 19-14 at home to Atlanta when a last-gasp Hail Mary pass to Rocket Ismail was nearly caught but fell incomplete in the end zone.
Richardson, according to Observer news reports at the time, convened a rare team meeting the next day in which he gave the entire squad a tongue-lashing. Richardson said then that he had spent too much money in the offseason (on forgettable players like Sean Gilbert, William Floyd, Corbin Lacina and Doug Evans, unfortunately) for the Panthers to lose like that.
As The Observer's 1998 story said, "Richardson was very upset and told the players he had spent too much money in free agency during the off-season to accept such a poor performance, said the sources, who did not want to be further identified. He vowed not to tolerate such play and specifically noted his disdain for the 98-yard touchdown drive the defense surrendered in the second quarter, the sources said. Players were startled that Richardson would rip into the team and that some players considered his comments inappropriate, the sources said."
The Falcons ultimately would go to the Super Bowl that year. The Panthers kept losing. They went 4-12. By the end of the season, coach Dom Capers had been fired, quarterback Kerry Collins was long gone and the Panthers were in disarray.
Weird, isn't it? Flash the score "19-14" in front of Richardson in a home game and the team owner is like a bull seeing a matador's red cape. Well, no, not really. It's just a coincidence. But quite a strange one.