professional football team and one of five teams in the Western Division
of the National Football Conference (NFC) of the National Football
League (NFL). Under the league’s realignment plan, which will take
affect in 2002, the Panthers will play in the South Division of the NFC.
The Panthers play at Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, and
wear uniforms of black, blue, and silver.
During the 1996 season the Panthers won their division and qualified for
the playoffs. It was only their second year of existence, and this was
the earliest an NFL expansion team had ever encountered such success.
During the previous year, the team won seven games—the most ever by an
NFL expansion team.
In 1993 Panthers founder and owner Jerry Richardson was awarded the
first new NFL franchise since 1976, when the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa
Bay Buccaneers had joined the league. Two years later, Carolina and
fellow expansion team Jacksonville Jaguars began play. Former Pittsburgh
Steelers assistant coach Dom Capers was named the Panthers’ first head
After losing the first 5 games of the 1995 season, Carolina won 7 of its
last 11 games behind wide receivers Mark Carrier and Willie Green.
During the season the Panthers defeated the San Francisco 49ers to
become the first expansion team ever to beat a defending league
In 1996 the Panthers stunned the NFL by winning 12 games and capturing
the NFC Western Division title. Quarterback Kerry Collins and running
back Anthony Johnson anchored the offense. Carolina put together the
second-best defense in the NFC, featuring three Pro Bowl linebackers:
Kevin Greene, Lamar Lathon, and Sam Mills. Michael Bates was the
league’s top kickoff returner, averaging 30.2 yards per return.
Placekicker John Kasay led the league in scoring, converting on a
league-record 37 field goals. Capers was named coach of the year. After
capturing the division title, Carolina defeated the Dallas Cowboys in
the playoffs before losing the NFC Championship Game to the eventual
Super Bowl champions, the Green Bay Packers.
The franchise experienced its worst year ever in 2001 when it went 1-15
and lost 15 consecutive games, an NFL record. A turnaround came quickly,
however. In 2003, under head coach John Fox, the team finished the
regular season 11-5 and qualified for the playoffs as the winner of the
NFC’s South Division. During the regular season and in the playoffs, the
Panthers won several come-from-behind games. They advanced to Super Bowl
XXXVIII and appeared on the verge of another comeback when they tied the
New England Patriots with about one minute left to play. The Patriots
kicked a field goal with about four seconds left and won the game in one
of the most dramatic finishes in Super Bowl history.
2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII Lost to New England Patriots, 32-29
NFL History Guide