The Carolina Panthers who currently play in the NFC South Division of the National Football League are one of the leagues’ youngest franchises having been granted one of the two 1993 expansion memberships on 26th October. This officially made them the 29th team in the NFL and they were the 1st new team to be admitted since The Seattle Seahawks in 1976. They would be joined by the Jacksonville Jaguars who became the 30th franchise and be their first ever opponents in the 1995 AFC-NFC Hall of Fame Game which they won 20-14. The Panthers played well in their inaugural season managing an impressive 7-9 record which remains the best performance for an expansion teams first season. In their second season Carolina surpassed all expectations by winning the NFC Western division with a 12-4 record and then reaching the NFC Championship game where they lost to eventual Super Bowl winners The Green Bay Packers. By a twist of fate the other 1995 Expansion Team the Jacksonville Jaguars also reached the AFC Championship game losing to the New England Patriots.
Unfortunately the following years were somewhat less successful for the Panthers and they didn’t manage a winning record in any of the following six seasons, including a disastrous 1-15 in 2001.
However two seasons after their low point in 2003, the Panthers upset the then holders Tampa Bay by taking the NFC South division with an 11-5 record and then going on to win the NFC championship game so earning a berth in Super Bowl XXXVIII against the New England Patriots. In a highly entertaining game in which defenses ruled the 1st half they ended up losing in a second half shoot out by 3 points.
In the seasons since their lone Super Bowl appearance the Carolina Panthers have enjoyed mixed fortunes losing the Conference final to the Seattle Seahawks in 2005 and again reaching the playoffs in 2008. However they have been plagued by inconsistency and to date have never managed consecutive winning seasons.
Carolina Panthers Honours
- Runners Up 2003
- NFC: 2003
- NFC West: 1996
- NFC South: 2003, 2008
- NFL: 1996, 2003, 2005, 2008