The Carolina Panthers have had a terrible, terrible season from hell, and it only hit a new low on Sunday.
Scoring zero points in a 26-0 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars — who were starting backup quarterback C.J. Beathard — as Bryce Young’s brutal rookie season comes to a near-close wasn’t even the worst part of the day.
Averaging 2.3 yards per play and not crossing 100 total yards until the fourth quarter wasn’t the lowest point of the day for the Panthers.
No, in a moment of what can (at best) be described as a brief loss of control, Panthers team owner David Tepper appeared to throw a drink at an unruly Jaguars fan who was in front of him toward the end of the game. Tepper’s Panthers have been unequivocally the worst team in the league this year, but there is simply no excuse for this behavior in the middle of tough times — particularly from his perch as the owner of a NFL team.
“We are aware of the video and have no further comment at this time,” the NFL said in a statement, according to Joe Person of The Athletic. The Panthers themselves, meanwhile, still haven’t commented.
This is just flat-out a rotten way to behave. Fights have been ignited over throwing drinks on people. It’s one of the most disrespectful, non-physical things a human can do to another human. Alcohol with backwash all over a t-shirt or an expensive jersey ain’t cool, man. Especially amid the power dynamics of Tepper not just being a team owner, but one of the singularly richest people in the entire world.
Tepper might as well be an anonymous person on the internet in that scenario. He’s completely untouchable as a person of his financial and social stature. He would never suffer a real punishment for behaving in this fashion because there is nothing that the person who got the drink poured on him can do. It’s an abuse of power as much as it is just a lame thing to do.
To take it a step further, if this is how Tepper is acting in public, it’s easy to see why the Panthers have had so many head coaches in the brief time that Tepper has owned the team. It was an illogical, rushed, emotional response that puts him and his decision making under further scrutiny and gives partial context as to why the Panthers have been so dysfunctional over the past few years. A rotating door of head coaches and their interim replacements, musical chairs at quarterback, trading up for Young when the roster clearly wasn’t ready to support a rookie quarterback — and now, this unruly moment that has been caught on camera.
Panthers fans are already (kind of) joking about whether or not this moment can be used to strip Tepper of his ownership. That isn’t going to happen. It takes a lot more than that for someone to lose their team, but it does paint the picture of where this team is.
The Panthers are just 31-67 since Tepper took over in 2018 and he’s about to hire his third full-time head coach in that timespan with a roster that doesn’t appear anywhere close to competing, even in the dismal NFC South.
At some point Tepper is going to have to stumble into success by mistake, even with his rash and hasty decision-making.
The part here that resonates beyond football is that everyone knows Tepper won’t or can’t face real discipline through this due to the power he holds. When you’re this wealthy in America, this is sadly one of the perks afforded to you.
The only hope here is that Tepper can see this as a moment of weakness and hopefully make changes for himself that will make the Panthers a respected franchise again. It simply doesn’t have to be like this.