The first game of the season? Is that possible? I think it is as close to a "must win" as any first game I have ever seen.
Imagine the reaction if the Panthers beat Seattle. Compare it to another game/event. It would be equivalent to a playoff victory around here.
The biggest problem with this team is actually how losing has rattled the fan base. We started as a franchise by going to the NFC Championship during the second year. We played in 3 NFC championship games and a Super Bowl during the team's first 10 years of existence. We got spoiled. Even after a couple down years, 2008 happened, and the team won 12 games, earned a bye and home field advantage for the playoffs. Seems like decades ago.
Since then we had Jerry's pie chart, Marty's spending spree, Fox gets fired, rumors that the team was leaving for LA, an a few double-digit loss seasons. We watched the new hope, Rivera and company, give away game after game in the fourth quarter. We watched other-colored jerseys fill our stadium week after week because the fans had reason to lose their commitment to the team--Jerry and Marty became distant and smug, morons whose decisions were ridiculed across the league.
Winning this game would wash away four years of humility and restore hope. It has a ton to do with the atmosphere for the next home game, and players thrive on that positive energy. So does the economy. So do I. I am tired of trudging into work on Monday's following a loss wondering what about life is worth living, hoping to avoid the obnoxious co-worker from the North whose drive in featured a one-liner rehearsal designed to get me to take a swing at him.
Enough is enough. I do not want a moral victory. I am tired of watching Rivera's face on the sideline looking like a third grader at a spelling be who had just been asked to spell "psuedoantidisestablishmentarianism." Man up, grab your boys by the pouch, and make a tough call. Screw tomorrow and next week and next year. Win NOW.