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Letter from Carolina Panthers Owner/Founder Jerry Richardson

Posted Jul 25, 2011

Dear Panthers Fans,

The last 12 months have been very difficult for Panthers fans. The 2010 season was not what anyone expected or desired, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement tested the patience of all involved. We did not live up to your expectations, or mine, and your frustration is understandable.

Yet through it all, I am reminded how fortunate we are to have you as Panthers fans. You are passionate about the game and have stuck with our organization through the highs and lows that come with an NFL franchise. On a personal level, I can't thank you enough for your loyalty and devotion to your team. I have received hundreds of letters and emails of encouragement and advice - some of it quite direct - reflecting your passion for the Panthers, and they are appreciated.

We are now at a place we hope proves beneficial for everyone: fans, players and the teams. The new agreement, which has been recommended to its membership by the NFL Players Association, will allow the League to continue to improve the fan experience in every way imaginable while providing economic support to past players and focusing on the health and safety of our current players. It also will enable the NFL to maintain the competitive balance that has made the League so great over the years.

As we saw last year with Green Bay and Pittsburgh, market size does not determine where the Lombardi Trophy lands. Our mission is to bring it to the Carolinas.

You have my assurance we will make the necessary investments and aggressively pursue every avenue to make that dream come true.

While our division remains one of the toughest in the NFL, I am excited about the upcoming season. The experience gained by our young players a year ago should pay dividends. With Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil as anchors, the offensive line can be one of the best in the League. Another Pro Bowl player, linebacker Jon Beason, is the centerpiece of the defense.

Our new head coach, Ron Rivera, brings a history of success as a player and coach to the Carolinas. With coordinators Rob Chudzinski on offense and Sean McDermott on defense, Coach Rivera has put together an enthusiastic staff that will feature an attacking style of play on both sides of the ball. Add No. 1 choice Cam Newton, and one of the most intriguing draft classes in team history, and this has the potential for a most exciting season.

I have learned timetables can be tricky, but I can promise we will continue to make a total commitment to building the championship team you deserve.

With appreciation and respect,