Celebrate the season

With training camp ending and the preseason beginning, the Panthers' preparations for the 2011 season are well underway, and fans, too, are encouraged to show their Panthers pride in a unique way with the NFL's Back to Football campaign.

It all leads up to the Back to Football Friday celebration on Sept. 9, a way for communities in the Carolinas and nationwide to show their excitement for the return of NFL football. Carolina opens the regular season at the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 4:15 EDT.

Panthers fans are encouraged to demonstrate their team spirit and enthusiasm for the upcoming season by planning a unique Back to Football Friday event for their communities, in the workplace, or at school - all to support youth health and wellness.

Whether they're planning a pep rally or wearing their favorite Panthers jersey or shirt to school or work, fans can show their passion in any creative way on Sept. 9 and enter for the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime prizes from the NFL.

SCHOOL CONTEST
Schools can register for the Back to Football Friday contest at www.NFLRUSH.com/BackToFootball. They will be asked to submit photos of their Back to Football Friday event and answer brief essay questions for the chance to win part of $20,000 in NFL Play 60 grants for fitness equipment at their school. Judging will be based on how well your school promotes the NFL's Play 60 initiative and its support for the Panthers.

The top entry will win a $10,000 fitness grant, be recognized as an "NFL Play 60 Super School" and also receive a Panthers team celebration. Four runner-up winners will each win a $2,500 fitness grant from Carolina Panthers Charities. To qualify for the runner-up grant awards, schools must also email their entries to community.relations@panthers.nfl.com.

FAN/OFFICE CONTEST
Panthers fans also may take their team loyalties to work on Sept. 9 by wearing their favorite jersey or gear or planning a special office event to celebrate the return of Panthers football. Fans can show their passion for the Panthers by creating their own virtual touchdown dance, entering the Extreme Cubicle Makeover Contest, and taking the United Way Healthy Kids Pledge - for the chance to win NFL Shop gift cards and even tickets to Super Bowl XLVI. Companies and individuals can register to take part at http://www.backtofootball.org/.

As a supporter of Back to Football Friday, Dick's Sporting Goods is providing special retail offers for NFL fans who participate in a celebration, as well as a $500 gift certificate to each of the "NFL PLAY 60 Super Schools."

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