I feel you bro.
I spent most of my adolescent life in Camp Lejeune NC. The son of a US Marine. My father being from Baltimore and baseball and football were the major sports i grew up with. NBA and ABA was not as popular as it is now. Baltimore back then had Unitas and the Robinson's in baseball. So life was good.
1984 all that changed as far as football went. I never followed the Colts to Indy so I was basically a fan without a team. I followed the Giants mostly because LT went to school with my brother (he was a walk on Safety for UNC and had a couple of cool stories about LT in practice) and my 1st wife was from Long Island, NY.
I loved NC and always called it home so when Carolina got the Panthers and later the Hornets these became my favorite teams and win/lose or draw I have always been a fan.
I know in the early days of the Panthers the Redskins, Steelers, Cowboys and even the Falcons had major roots in our fan base. Over the years many have jumped ship to the Panthers and our Carolina fan base is a little more loyal and we have less loyalty to those listed above.
I was watching NFL Live yesterday and they were talking about the Panthers Defense. Marcus Spears pointed out what I think makes our defense so dynamic. He said how crazy athletic we were. IMO that is the key to our defense. So many fast, athletic and smart players on the field.
Another take was when they were talking about Rhule during his press conference. They mentioned how deeply he knew about every aspect of a play or decision. He is completely in-charge and knows every in and out of this team.