The Carolina Panthers were awarded an NFL franchise on October 26, 1993. The league became enamored with the area after organizers sold 40,000 Carolina Panthers tickets three years before the team even took the field. The franchise's first head coach was Dom Capers and the first player to land on the Panthers' roster was Rod Smith. The team selected future professional wrestler Bill Goldberg in the expansion draft. He would go on to be the first player ever cut by the organization. Thanks to free agency, the Panthers quickly put together a competitive team.
In the Panthers' first season (1995) they finished 7-9—the best win-loss record ever by an NFL expansion team. In their second year of existence, the Panthers made it all the way to the NFC Championship game only to lose to the eventual Super Bowl champions, Green Bay Packers.
The Panthers reached their first Super Bowl in 2003. Known as the "Cardiac Cats," the Panthers lost Super Bowl XXXVIII to the New England Patriots after they kicked a field goal with seconds remaining in the game. In 2005, defensive end Julius Peppers, wide receiver Steve Smith, and quarterback Jake Delhome led the Panthers back to the NFC Championship game. However, the Seattle Seahawks overwhelmed "The Cats," 34-14.
The Panthers are part of the NFC South. The team players their home games at Bank of America Stadium located in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. Their main rivals are the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Some of the Panthers top players over the years include Kerry Collins, DeShaun Foster, Chris Gamble, Don Beebe, Muhsin Muhammad, Kevin Greene, Wesley Walls, Sam Mills, and John Kasay.