The Carolina Panthers had a disappointing season last year, going 8-8 after starting the season with Super Bowl hopes. In trying to turn this year around the team decided it needed to bond and get closer. Ropes course? No, that's what you did in junior high. This is the NFL. They raced cars.
The team took a trip to Lowe's Motor Speedway on Wednesday, taking turns riding stock cars in speeds of up to 180 mph. Whether or not it made the team congeal together is up for debate, but it's clear that all involved had a good time.
"I don't mean to call anybody out, but James Anderson told me he was about to cry before he got into the car," center Geoff Hangartner said of the 232-pound linebacker.Or maybe just a memorable time.
"We have video of you throwing up, Michael Gaines," QB David Carr told the tight end. "Want me to show it?"
There was concern some of the linemen wouldn't be able to squeeze into the cars. Former Charlotte television sports anchor Chuck Howard, who helped with the event, told players if they couldn't fit, there were larger Mustangs they could ride in.
The Panthers and coach John Fox kept their trip to the track quiet - cameras and reporters weren't allowed. You won't see any footage up on YouTube, at least for now. Good move on their part. Better to let the public know about this afterwards, making sure that nobody was injured or killed. Now that would have been a disaster. The more you think about it, the more astonishing that the team bigwigs allowed this event to happen. I'm sure had the insurance folks known about this, they would have kyboshed it in a second. But at least in a season for the NFL full of bad press, this team sanctioned event went over fine, and there was even fun to be had.