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Thursday, August 2, 2012
NFL's Panthers hold eye-catching auction

By Patrick Dorsey

This logo, formerly seen on the Bank of America Stadium scoreboard, can be purchased online.
When you change your logo -- or rework it, in the Carolina Panthers' case -- something must be done with all that outdated stuff.

"There are many things -- more than probably folks would imagine -- placed around the stadium that have to be replaced at some point with the refined [logo]," said Panthers director of community relations Riley Fields.

What to do with the oldies, then? How about sell them -- as the Panthers do with some quite noteworthy items found at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium.

Those items, currently, are three: the massive logo (above) from the back of the stadium scoreboard, a sideline field wrap and a special wall panel mounted in the team weight room during the 2011 season. All are being sold online as part of the Panthers' Keep Pounding auction, an ongoing campaign for the Keep Pounding Fund, which benefits the Levine Cancer Institute and Levine Children's Hospital at Carolinas Medical Center.

This is a first for the Panthers, whose auctions typically were conducted on game days and available primarily to fans in attendance. Now anyone with desire and cash can enjoy one or all of these pieces too large to be considered trinkets.

For Fields, there are reasons beyond simple fandom that someone might want to bid. Sure, each is "a unique piece of memorabilia that isn't really going to be replicated," Fields said, but there's something more: the whole theme of "keep pounding," which started during the Panthers' run to Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Back then, linebackers coach Sam Mills was battling cancer yet gave an impassioned speech featuring the phrase "keep pounding" before the team's wild-card-round game against the Dallas Cowboys. Mills died a little more than a year later. But the team kept "keep pounding" as its slogan (and even put it on its jerseys for the coming season).

That's why these auctions give all proceeds to cancer-related causes. That's also why the Panthers put up that weight room panel, one that will be signed by all active roster members each year, then taken down and auctioned after the season, all in the name of Keep Pounding.

"Fans respond to the term 'keep pounding,'" Fields said. "They know its origins; they know where it comes from. It's been sort of internalized. ... And the team responds to it. ... [It's] this rallying cry or this call to action that I think ties the team together, ties fans together, and ties the team to the fans."

So it will be the rallying cry behind numerous auctions throughout the season, featuring items similar to the aforementioned ones up for auction through Aug. 20.

"We're going to have some really unique and interesting things, uncommon things, throughout the course of the season," Fields said. "And we're starting it off with probably the most ostentatious."