Because there aren’t enough characters on Twitter to share this epic tale!
Hello Fan Friends!
Everyone has the “cool uncle”, right? He’s fun and makes the most of the slices of life by creating memories that last a lifetime.￼ on my father side of the family I have one uncle, blessed with two Aunts, and only one Uncle￼. I wish I could say I have several memories that stand out but aside from a few trips to the movies or dinner with he and my cousins this memory stands out the most. This story is about nine years old it will turn 10 this January. So what happened nearly a decade ago that is still talked about at dinner parties and bemoaned by my Husband (who still hasn’t forgiven be by the way) the Cowboys fan?￼￼ Why it’s the story of how a young die hard Panthers fan from New Jersey came face to face with the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys and turned down an autograph. More on that later, but none of this would even be possible if not for my Uncle Mike managing time score us tickets to the 2010 Pro Bowl in Miami.
The Panthers had gone 2-14 that season so with no playoffs on the line, I readily accepted that this trip would be the most amazing part of my season. I was grateful that my Uncle included me on that opportunity to see Panther greats like Julius Peppers, Ryan Kalil and Jon Beason live. I want to say Steve Smith was there-I distinctively remember seeing him-but for a girl who lives a LONG way from Charlotte ANY opportunity to see my boys was one I took.
Miami was everything Will Smith described in ‘Welcome to Miami” and more! The hotel we stayed at, shops we spreed at, and restaurants we dined at were all delicious, well priced and accommodating. There are very few things in life more enjoyable than a weekend getaway to South Beach Florida-except seeing guys up close that you watch every Sunday and get invested in.
One of the more awesome points of the trip was visiting the practice area and being exposed to so many different fans from all over the NFL. Prior to the 2010 Pro Bowl, I had only really seen and interacted with Giants, Jets, Cowboys, and Eagles fans.￼￼ In fact, I was one of the only handful of students in my school-hell, even in my town-which didn’t support a local team.￼ Being a Panthers fan in New Jersey was like having sprouted wings and a tail￼-you just sort of stuck out like a sore thumb. So you can imagine my excitement in seeing fans from all over cheering on their favorite players from around the league! One family-a couple decked out from head to toe in Panthers gear-even approached me to asked for my picture! They were super sweet and the first members of my “Fambase”outside of my home state that I interacted with. That experience in itself encouraged me to become more active on Twitter and find everyone who supported all things Panthers that were out there.
This was a positive experience and an empowering one that helped me to make an effort to find others like me. I would love to find that couple with my picture somewhere in their album because I’d love to see it and thank them for making me feel so important. It made me feel like a bit of a celebrity within my fanbase, but more importantly, that picture request helped me to meet some of my best friends on Twitter!
After that picture request, I was absolutely giddy with the buzz of excitement from fellow fans surrounding me. With my rag tag group of cousins and Uncle (each representing a different team) in tow we made our way to the chain link fence where the players were entering. Eager for my first look at Peppers and Kalil I used my height to my advantage and (grabbing my Broncos fan cousin, Ashley’s hand) pushed us to the front of the crowd where we came face to face with Tony Romo.
For someone who played for a team that I was taught to loathe from a young age, he was super down to earth and approachable. Our chat was very brief, he asked what we thought of our first Pro Bowl experiences and we replied that it was really awesome. Not one to take an opportunity for granted, I told Tony plainly I was glad Jessica Simpson wasn’t at the recent games (for my boyfriend back at home’s sake) because she was an absolute jinx. My cousin quickly offered up here Brandon Marshall jersey to be signed and I handed him over my Sharpie so that he could. Once he finished, he gestured to me wordlessly implying if I wanted anything signed I should fork it over now. I smiled at him, accepted my Sharpie back and said “you seem like a nice guy, but no thank you!”
He looked like he wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be insulted but he signed my other cousin’s Faulk jersey and while he did so I snapped a picture to prove to Tom back at home that this even happened.
My cousin’s signed Broncos Jersey
This entire exchange happened over a span of 6 minutes but it’ll stay with me for the rest of my life. When I go places, it’s easily an ice breaker to end all ice breakers and it also won me the respect of people back at home when I explained how I couldn’t let Tony besmirch my Steve Smith jersey. The day itself was a defining moment in my life as a Panthers fan, I realized there were others like me out there and I wanted to find them all. To the couple who has a selfie out there of a petite, tan, brunette girl in a Julius Peppers jersey from New Jersey please DM me over Twitter my handle is: @brittmschmidt I would love to see that picture and hear from you!