I am spoiled forever.

We went to the Panthers game Saturday night.  It was the first pre-season game, but we didn’t have tickets.  We usually go to one or two games during the year, but this one wasn’t on our schedule.  That is, it wasn’t until Friday afternoon.  We had plans with our friends Jeff & Paula Conway that night, but everything got messed up.  Babysitter issues, etc.   In the middle of all that, Jeff sent me an email asking if we wanted to go the Panthers game Saturday night instead. Twist my arm.

Turns out, the tickets were in the Panthers suite and included field passes for before the game.  Wow. 

We met up outside the stadium, a little group of about 15 people, all trying to look cool.  I felt like a little kid, excited to go someplace new, maybe a little nervous to make a good impression.  You can’t tell me all the other people there didn’t feel the same way!

We walked through a side entrance and out onto the field.  I think we came out the same entrance that the Colts would use 45 minutes later.  Fans were peering over the top of the tunnel, trying to see who we were.  They may have been a little disappointed.

The field looks great.  I don’t know anything about NFL conditions, but if it were your lawn, your neighbors would be jealous.  They haven’t painted the end zones yet, but there’s a yellow line all around that you’re not allowed to cross as a spectator.  We were very careful to follow all the rules.  There were many friendly, but very big, people standing around to make sure we did.

Our hosts Jeff & Paula are the owners of the Ruth’s Chris Steak House restaurants in Charlotte.  Jeff knows many of the coaches and players and even works out with some of the Panthers.  A bunch of them came over to say hello as we stood on the side lines. Check out the video of Jeff and Steve Smith before the game. (link isn’t up yet.. sorry)

When we got upstairs to the Panthers suite, I was surprised to see about half of the radio station!  We’re the radio home of the team and apparently the owners had extended an invitation to many of the managers.  So, there was my boss, Rick Jackson, our sales manager, Steve Sklenar, Tony Garcia who syndicates Bob & Sheri and Matt & Ramona over on our sister station 107.9 The Link and a handful of other movers and shakers from One Julian Price Place. 

Watching a football game in a box is a little weird, but fantastic too.  Everyone is schmoozing, trying to put together deals and talk up clients.  The game is on several televisions throughout the suite and of course, unfolding on the field below as well.  Not sure how many people are watching it though! 

We stayed pretty late (for me).  I have such an early schedule that even on Saturday night it’s hard to stay out past 10pm, but we made it until the end of the 4th quarter.  Outside, getting our car we realized the game went into overtime.  That was fun for us, because I got to listen to Mick, Eugene and Jim on the way home.  When does Jim Szoke sleep?

Thanks to John Berger of the Panthers who was our incredibly gracious host on the field and in the suite. 

As for Jeff & Paula, they are just as fun to hang out with as they are welcoming when they greet you in their incredible restaurants.  We owe them one, but this’ll be pretty hard to top.