Reporting Rob Long
I remember going to the Baltimore Ravens game in Charlotte, NC last season to watch their game against the Carolina Panthers. I was looking forward to the homecoming because I hadn’t returned to that area since I moved from Rock Hill, South Carolina in late 2000.
I really did not know what to expect. The area wasn’t huge on Panther football when I lived there but a lot had changed since then. They had a franchise player in Steve Smith and the team had appeared in a very entertaining Superbowl. Maybe, even in the midst of a bad season, the area would have “cozied” up to it’s pro football team.
Not the case. Ravens fans painted the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area purple as we invaded Bank of America Stadium with chants of “O” during the national anthem and rocked the place as the Ravens’ defense forced third downs to pump up our team. It was like a traveling home game. As a fan, I felt proud, and angry all at once.
I remember when Charlotte was given an expansion franchise over Baltimore. I remember my uncle from Florence, South Carolina telling me that they did not care about the NFL. It was all about college football in South Carolina and college basketball in North Carolina.
While giving a team to Carolina made little sense, giving one to Jacksonville made even less sense. That area is CLEARLY crazy about college football. Just take a look at all of the fans in the upper deck who are dressed as one big tarp. That’s not a good look for an NFL franchise. To say that there’s apathy in Jacksonville toward the NFL would be a gross understatement. They’re so nonchalant about the team, no one’s really crying for Jack Del Rio to lose his job. There are probably more people talking about it nationally than locally. More folks are talking about the Georgia/Florida game that takes place in Jacksonville Saturday than about the Jags.
Charlotte business managers where thankful for Ravens nation invading their home last year. I’m sure the fine people of Jacksonville will feel the same way if such is the case. If only the National Football League could have a “Do Over.”
Ravens 31 Jags 17