CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Had the Carolina Panthers not been zapped by the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night, we might still be talking about the wizardry of defensive end Greg Hardy during NBC's player introductions.
Heck, let's talk about it anyway. It was much more entertaining than the 31-13 blowout.
Hardy, in what may be the funniest -- or at least most unusual -- self-introduction in the history of football, referred to himself by his self-dubbed mythical name "The Kraken."
But he didn't stop there. Instead of saying he went to the University of Mississippi or Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, Hardy pulled a "Harry Potter" on us.
"Kraken. Hogwarts," he said.
And to top it all off, he wore dark sunglasses.
"I mean, I mean, I was excited about it," Hardy said on Monday, showing he'd put the loss to New Orleans behind him quickly. "I've been talking about it for years. It was an honor, man. I figured I'd have some fun with it and just enjoy the moment."
Hardy has been talking about the opportunity for some time. He was disappointed -- and somewhat confused and angry -- to learn before the Monday night game against New England that the NFL moved the self introduction tradition to Sunday night games.
So when he got the chance for Sunday nights' game at the Superdome, he made the most of it.
"I play to the fourth quarter, last minute of the game ... cause I don't know if I'm going to get that type atmosphere ever again," Hardy said. "I don't know if it's ever going to be the Saints-Panthers, that hype, try to set sound records, ever again.
"That's how I feel. I live it up. That's how I do my thing."
For those who aren't familiar with Hardy, let me put him into perspective. He said earlier this year he could beat LeBron James one-on-one in basketball.
A couple of reporters who hadn't been around Hardy when he's in full "Kraken" mode left scratching their heads after the whole explanation as to why he went with Hogwarts for his alma mater.
Here's how it went:
Reporter 1: "Where did you come up with Hogwarts?"
Kraken: "Have you ever seen Harry Potter? Hogwarts. A little witchcraft. Wizardry."
Reporter 1: "How long have you been thinking of that?"
Kraken: "It's The Kraken. Mystical. It's where he lives at."
Reporter 1: "You're mixing mythology and fantasy."
Kraken: "I can do whatever I want. I'm The Kraken. ... If you feel you can ask The Kraken personally where he goes to school, and prove me wrong, then I feel like I'll change it."
Reporter 2: "How long have you been Kraken?"
Kraken: "For as long as I can remember. Yesterday."
Reporter 1: "Is Ole Miss Hogwarts?"
Kraken: "No, that's not where I said I went. Hardy went to Ole Miss."
Reporter 1 as Reporter 2 steps back: "And Kraken didn't?"
Kraken: "That's time blown right there. You gotta listen. I'm talking. You've got to listen.''
I then asked Kraken -- I mean Hardy, I mean Kraken -- what the NBC producer said after taping the introduction.
"He asked if I was for real," Hardy said.
Then I mistakenly reminded Hardy that he lives in a fantasy world.
"No, you think it's fantasy," he said. "It's my reality. I've got the bruises, cuts and stitches to prove it.''
The moral of this episode? Life goes on in fantasy and reality -- even after an embarrassing loss that ends a franchise-record eight-game winning streak.