Carolina Panthers: 1996 Panthers > 1996 Jaguars


The 1996 Carolina Panthers did the unthinkable and won a division title in their second year. So why the love for the Jags from Pete Prisco?

The Carolina Panthers are going to their second Super Bowl, but they have been to the playoffs several times in their history. The first of those trips was the playoff run of 1996, whose twenty year anniversary will hit next year. The Panthers, after setting a record for a year expansion team in win percentage the year before, went all the way to the NFC Championship Game before losing to the Green Bay Packers, the eventual Super Bowl winners.

Strangely the Panthers’ achievement from that season was not on the mind of one Pete Prisco at CBS Sports. Instead Prisco decided to do an oral piece on the other expansion team from 1995, the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars also made the AFC Playoffs that year and also lost in the AFC Championship game to Drew Bledsoe and the Bill Parcells Patriots.

Yet the Prisco article disappointed me because I had no idea what drove its creation. Was it the twentieth anniversary of the Jaguars’ 1996 season? No. Were the Jaguars doing something unprecedented that season for a second year expansion team? Hard to say since the Panthers were doing it with more style at the same time. Maybe it was the recent retirement of Tom Coughlin that prompted the article.

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That is not to take anything away from Jacksonville in 1996, but it is hard to see where they warrant special attention here. While the Jaguars would build on their 1996 season to further playoff appearances where the Panthers would not, the seasons themselves don’t compare well. Jacksonville went from 3-6 to a wild card berth.

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The Carolina Panthers one the other hand went toe to toe with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West and only came out of it on the last day of the season. The Panthers had a 12-4 record and a divisional crown. They were doing this as a second year expansion team. They swept the defending Super Bowl champion 49ers in two matchups. This is what I mean by the Panthers having more style in 1996 and how that lessens the story of the Jaguars from that year.

It is even stranger with the Jaguars having no impact on the Super Bowl. Yet their counterpart Panthers are actually in the big game this year. It seems to me that Prisco just really wanted to write about the Jaguars for some reason. It wasn’t timely or topical except for the retirement of Coughlin. If the Jaguars had left for Los Angeles I could understand, but they did not.

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In the end, Mr. Prisco wrote a neat article full of backstory information on the 1996 Jaguars. I just don’t get why he wrote it. If the 1996 Jags were worthy of such scrutiny then certainly the 1996 Panthers, who outdid them, are worthy of equal time. Ignoring the Panthers leaves a big hole in his premise.

The Carolina Panthers will be playing at Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara.