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Heads or tails: You make the call

Posted Nov 29, 2012



CHARLOTTE – When the Panthers' captains head out to midfield before Sunday's game in Kansas City, there's a 50-50 chance that they'll win the coin toss.

With such even odds, how is it possible that the Panthers haven't won any of their 12 coin tosses this season?

"Really?" quarterback Cam Newton said Thursday when informed of the streak. "Are you serious? Well, we're going to win this one."

If the Panthers do win the toss, they'll have their loyal fans to thank. Fans have until 7 p.m. Saturday to call heads or tails by voting via the team's Facebook page.

"Despite the odds, we've got to keep fighting," running back DeAngelo Williams said. "I don't know what the probabilities are with that, but it's just crazy."

The odds of losing 12 consecutive coin tosses – a number that includes the overtime coin toss in Week 11 against Tampa Bay – are 4,096-to-1. According to somewhat scientific estimates, the odds of a person getting injured while operating a chainsaw or lawn mower aren't that long.

The Panthers also lost the final two coin tosses of the preseason. The odds of losing 14 consecutive coin tosses are 16,384-to-1. You're more likely to record a hole-in-one in golf or bowl a perfect game.

"To me it doesn't really matter if we win or lose – I just want the ball," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "Some people defer to the second half. I guess I'm a little bit of a traditionalist in that I just want the ball because I think anytime you can put the ball in your offense's hands early and get a chance to score, that's awesome.

"I don't think it necessarily makes a difference in all honestly."

Statistically, it doesn't. NFC teams had won 14 consecutive Super Bowl coin tosses before last season but had won just five of the games. The New England Patriots ended the streak last season for the AFC, but the New York Giants won the Super Bowl for the NFC.

The Panthers coin-toss failings can't be blamed on any one captain, though left tackle Jordan Gross was quick to point out that he hasn't made a call all season.

"We just randomly choose somebody to call it," Gross said. "Like last week, (Jordan) Senn had a strong-looking mustache, so we thought it would look good if he called it. Or maybe we'll go with somebody who has a history with a particular opponent. There's really no science to it."

Come Sunday, whoever makes the call will be doing it on behalf of Panthers fans.

"It's kind of neat. We appreciate the fans' support," Rivera said. "The only thing that concerns me is that if they call the coin toss right, they might want to call some of the offenses and defenses."