After highlighting on Tuesday the different degrees of devotion among fans in the Carolinas, today we see how far and wide the Panthers' influence is in other states and countries.
There's no question the biggest concentration of the faithful is in the Piedmont, but as the Panthers prepare for Saturday's showdown against the Cardinals, we've heard from many others who live and work nowhere near Bank of America Stadium.
Maybe it's no surprise to find followers down the road in Atlanta, where economic development consultant Matthew Tarleton and technical instructor Scott Gross profess their devotion despite living in Falconland. Heck, Gross even works in Flowery Branch, home of the Falcons headquarters.
Beyond the Southeast, though, Panthers fans are in every time zone. There's the school crowd, from high school student Barron Christopher in Kokomo, Ind., to Alex Baxter, a law student at the University of California Berkeley who moved from Charlotte to the Golden State after the 1996 season but is planning to be at Saturday's game.
Other West Coast Panther fans include Raul Carrillo in the Los Angeles area, Andy Sims in San Francisco and Aaron Jacobson in Fresno, who explains his devotion this way:
"My dad tried to raise me a Bears fan, but I rebelled and chose the Raiders because he hated them so much. But I never really watched football. I didn’t know many rules or anything.
Then during the '94 season I started really paying attention and heard about some new expansion teams that were coming out. So I figured hey, I’m starting to really get into this, let’s start fresh. I picked the Panthers over the Jaguars because of the coaching staff and some of the players they were picking up. Since then I’ve been a die-hard fan.
I have a fantasy vacation where one day, I’ll travel to the East Coast see a game, the stadium, the city and then travel to Talladega to watch Dale Earnhardt Jr. race my favorite track. It’ll be a costly trip, but one I can’t wait to take."
In Albuquerque, N.M., Jason Gallegos said that when he was a kid his parents gave him a poster with every NFL team helment on it. "When I first laid eyes on the Panthers helmet," he said, "I was an instant fan."
Then there's the military. This story has more, and we've also heard from Trace McBride of the U.S. Air Force in Crestview, Fla. and Brian Fjeld, an Air Force meteorologist in Mountain Home, Idaho. While they may have a hard time seeing Panthers games, it's nothing compared to what Jerry Senatore went through while in Iraq with the U.S. government in 2005 and 2007.
"I remember staying up late to catch many football games. Baghdad was eight hours ahead, so the 1 p.m. games were easy. The 4 p.m. games were challenging. I ended up catching reruns of the Monday night games."
The recent story on fans in the military also reminded Senatore of this impressive photo.
So clearly Panthers Nation extends across the country. Can anyone out there top the West Coast or soldiers stationed overseas? Where else are Panthers fans lurking and waiting for Saturday's big game?
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