Panthers or Skins
by Brian North

Everyone who peruses this website is a Pirate fan. But which NFL teams do East Carolinians root for? Eastern North Carolina used to be a big Redskins area before the Panthers came along in 1996. There are still lots of loyal Burgundy and gold fans, but it looks like the tide is shifting to the Panthers.

This past weekend, more televisions were tuned into the Panthers game against the Giants, than the Redskins game against the Buccaneers. If you go entirely by the ratings results, which are the Nielsen television ratings service projections based on 500 metered households, a total of 215,715 households watched the Panthers, and 165,480 watched the Redskins in eastern and central Carolina.

The Panthers have had more fans jump on their band wagon since they started winning three years ago, and a new generation of football fans have now had 11 years of Carolina football to root for. When I go to games in Charlotte, I am amazed how many people yell to me from the stands. Folks from Greenville, New Bern, Kinston, Washington, and Morehead City make the trek regularly to watch the 'Cats play.

But there are still a ton of Redskin fans left, and I know of several who make the commute to Washington, DC. But the number seems to be shrinking, and I think that probably has to do with state loyalty. Even though the Panthers are in Charlotte, they are still within the state's borders.  It's easier to have bragging rights when there is some sort of correlation.

Both teams have had ECU players don their uniforms. The Panthers employed Emmanuel McDaniel and Damane Duckett for a year. Earnest Byner won a Super Bowl ring with the Redskins.

Either way, NFL fans in Eastern North Carolina will have a lot to cheer about this weekend as both teams are still alive in the playoffs. The best case scenario has both the 'Skins and the Panthers winning this weekend, then they would play each other in Charlotte for the NFC Championship. Then we could really see who has more fans in ENC.

Brian North