I was born in Georgia and lived all over the country until 1980. Called 8 different states home at one time or another before I turned 13. Once arriving here, enough Falcon games were on TV for me to slowly pick them so that by the time I go off to college in "85, they are my team. Never really felt right except that Bartkowski would usually whip the 49'ers ass once a year. That was pretty cool.
Then, on November 5th, 1993, after boarding a military flight bound for Saudi Arabia with approximately 200 of my closest friends, Sgt. Winn calls for my attention in the row behind me.
At 30,000 feet he says, "Allen, check this out." He then opens his shirt and shows me his military issued desert brown t-shirt has Panthers written on it in black magic marker. He says, "You're in, right?" I kind of smiled and said, "Sure. Pretty cool, huh?" The news of Jerry being awarded the team wasn't even 2 weeks old. Sgt. Winn was from Sumter SC and knew I was, for all practical purposes, from Shelby, NC.
Sgt. Winn, was a really cool guy, probably 20 to 25 years my senior. Always had a toothpick in his mouth. Totally gray headed and a smartass and a hardass at the same time. Acted like he liked me for some reason. Always wanted to talk about the Braves or sports in general. Reminded me of John Wayne. Sumbitch saved my drunk ass and my buddy's drunk asses more times than I can count out of numerous altercations at the NCO club. He was like our Dad...but cool.
To make a long story short, I came back to the states 7 months later, Sgt. Winn did not.
I was there, in South Carolina, his home state, when the Panthers played their first (albeit not regular season) home game against Denver.
Some 23 months after he asked me, "You're in, right?" the Panthers won.