What are the worst moments for each NFL franchise? Yahoo Sports provides our opinion, which you are free to disagree with (and we’re sure you will).
5. Fred Lane shot to death by his wife
An undrafted rookie out of Lane College, Fred Lane rushed for more than 2,000 yards in three seasons with the Carolina Panthers before being traded to the Indianapolis Colts in April 2000. Three months later, he was dead. Lane, 24, was shot and killed by his estranged wife, Deidra, as he entered his Charlotte home in July 2000. Deidra Lane pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in 2003 and served nearly six years in prison before being released in 2009. Lane was the leading rusher in Panthers history at the time of his death.
4. Jerry Richardson accused of workplace misconduct
On Dec. 14, 2017, Jerry Richardson was considered one of the most powerful owners in the NFL. On Dec. 15, a story broke of Richardson’s alleged misconduct in the workplace. On Dec. 17, Richardson announced he would put the team up for sale. It was a swift and stunning turn of events for the only owner the franchise has ever known, for the man who brought professional football to the Carolinas more than two decades earlier. According to a Sports Illustrated report, four former employees had received monetary settlements due to Richardson’s “inappropriate workplace comments and conduct,” which were reportedly both sexual and racial in nature. Two days later, the Panthers were for sale. In a statement announcing his intention to sell, the 81-year-old Richardson did not address the allegations, but it’s clear: in a highly charged time, when tolerance for this kind of conduct was coming under intense scrutiny, Jerry Richardson made the only decision he could to avoid subjecting himself and potentially other owners to uncomfortable investigations, now and in the future.
3. Cam Newton’s struggles during Super Bowl 50 loss
The start of the 2015 season couldn’t have been much better for the Panthers, and the ending couldn’t have been much worse. Carolina won its first 14 games, Newton won league MVP and the team reached Super Bowl 50 … and then the roof fell in. Newton struggled mightily during the 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos – 18-of-41 passing for 265 yards with no TDs and one INT, plus he did not jump on his own fumble late in the game. And the quarterback didn’t do himself any favors in his postgame news conference. He gave short answers and looked more like a pouting child than a man who could lead a team to a championship.
2. John Kasay’s out-of-bounds kickoff in Super Bowl XXXVIII
Many folks remember Super Bowl XXXVIII for Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, but Panthers fans might remember their kicker’s failure at a critical moment against the New England Patriots. The Panthers reached their first Super Bowl in 2003 and had just tied the score at 29-29 with 1:08 left in regulation, and it looked like the Super Bowl was heading to overtime for the first time in history. But John Kasay inexplicably hooked the kickoff out of bounds, giving the Patriots the ball at their 40. Tom Brady drove New England to the Carolina 23 in seven plays, and Adam Vinatieri booted a 41-yard field goal with four seconds left for a 32-29 victory. Kasay is a beloved figure in Panthers’ history, but Carolina fans are still wondering what if he hadn’t kicked the ball out of bounds.
1. Rae Carruth
The Panthers have had their share of off-the-field moments in their history that they’d like to forget – including Greg Hardy’s domestic violence charges and NFL suspension in 2014-15, and the murder of former running back Fred Lane by his wife, Deidra, in 2000 – but nothing has given the franchise a black eye more than the Rae Carruth saga. The team’s first-round pick in the 1997 draft was convicted of conspiring to murder his pregnant girlfriend, Cherica Adams, in 2001 because he reportedly didn’t want to pay child support. The baby, a boy named Chancellor Lee Adams, was delivered 10 weeks early and survived. He turned 18 in 2017, but suffers from disabilities due to the shooting. Carruth’s projected release date from prison is October 2018. He will be 44 years old, and the Panthers’ franchise will be dragged back into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.