Cleat Geeks

The Panther Post: ‘My’ $62 Million Man

When you invest your heart in a football team, you better be prepared to have that heart broken.  True fans understand the ups and downs and highs and lows of every season, every game, every quarter, and every snap.  When you talk about your team, you use words like “we”, and “our”.  It is one of the coolest things about sports fandom.  You feel connected. You feel like you are a part of something when you sit in the stands and scream your lungs out, or sit in a sports bar and high-five total strangers, or sit on your own couch and throw things at the TV. It’s part of being a true fanatic. In my world, it’s just normal.  At an even deeper level, you connect with the individual players on your team.  Even when your team is awful, there are players that are “yours”.  Players that you’ll pull for and cheer for until the bitter end.  Sometimes, when one of these players gets traded or leaves in free agency, it can feel like a death in the family.  Suddenly, the harsh reality that the NFL is a business can come crashing down on you.Panthers Buccaneers Football

I’ll never forget the day that Steve Smith was let go by the Panthers.  It still doesn’t seem right to see him catching touchdowns in a Ravens jersey.  I remember seeing Jake Delhomme in a Cleveland Browns uniform and pulling for the Browns like I was from Cleveland.  We had Reggie White in Carolina for exactly one year, but when he died, in my mind, a Carolina Panther died.  I know the people in Philly and Green Bay would disagree.  DeAngelo Williams will carry the ball for the Pittsburgh Steelers this year.  I hope he kills it! (And no, he’s not on my fantasy team).smithRavens

The reason for this little preamble is to say that I (which means the Panthers and I) will not have to worry about the best middle linebacker in the NFL leaving here anytime soon.  Luke Kuechly and the Panthers agreed today on a 5-year, $62 million contract extension that will keep him in a Panthers uniform until 2021.  Couple that with QB Cam Newton’s recent extension, and the Panthers have arguably their two greatest assets locked up until at least 2020.  This is a great thing for “us”.  Continuity with Pro-Bowl players is always a good thing.

luke-kuechlyCollegeSince he was drafted #9 overall in the 2012 draft , Kuechly has been elected to two Pro Bowls, had two first-team All Pro nods and won the AP’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2013.  In three seasons, he has amassed an astounding 473 tackles, 6 sacks, and 7 interceptions.  And oh by the way, he’s only 25 years old.  “Our” best is yet to come.

Sometimes, money numbers in sports can make us numb.  This is not one of those cases.  Every penny is well-deserved.  He’s “ours”.  I can worry again in 2021.

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