Patience pays off for Panthers in Super Bowl bid

Thu Feb 4, 2016 8:17pm EST
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By Larry Fine

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The Carolina Panthers are eager to register their first Super Bowl triumph against the Denver Broncos in Sunday's Super Bowl 50, but it was patience that turned them into an NFL powerhouse.

There have been ups and downs since quarterback Cam Newton and head coach Ron Rivera both came to Carolina in 2011 but five years later Newton is being hailed as the league's top player and Rivera has molded the Panthers into a 17-1 juggernaut.

The Panthers story begins with former NFL player Jerry Richardson, who after retiring from the NFL in 1961 turned entrepreneur before fulfilling his dream of bringing an NFL franchise to his home state of North Carolina.

Richardson, who played two seasons as a receiver for the Baltimore Colts, joined forces with a former college teammate and parlayed ownership of the first Hardee's restaurant into a franchise chain and a subsequent food-service empire.

They were awarded an NFL expansion franchise in 1993 and began play in 1995.

There was surprising success early for the Panthers. In their second season they went 12-4 under coach Dom Capers and quarterback Kerry Collins and advanced to the conference championship.

Seven years later with Jake Delhomme at quarterback under coach John Fox, they went all the way to the Super Bowl but fell just short, losing to the New England Patriots 32-29.

The rollicking Super Bowl saw 37 points scored in a see-saw fourth quarter in a game made further memorable for the halftime wardrobe malfunction of pop singer Janet Jackson.   Continued...

Feb 1, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) is introduced during Super Bowl 50 Opening Night media day at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports