This Panther's off-season, coaches, players, and even owner David Tepper have talked about changing the culture of the team. They want to see the team play better, have more fun, engage with fans, and enjoy the game.
The fans are also a big part of that vision.
“I want to see that twelfth man, like Tepper said, making a difference. The community, the fans really get into it,” said Vinny Esposito, the Panthers' DJ and owner of Split Second Sound music company.
Esposito says the culture has been changing over the past several years and music has a big part to play in that.
“We changed our format and everything else and it became more of a party to me. How do you - with the music - get the players engaged or the fans engaged?” asked Esposito. "It is not 'Jock Jams' anymore - that really does not work."
The videos of Cam Newton and other players, and even Tepper, dancing add to the fans' excitement and joy during the team activities.
However, the music during these times is planned and thought out.
“I really go in there and in a split-second, I make a decision on what is happening in the game. It takes a lot of prep work to have a lot of things ready to go," said Esposito, who added that he spends at least 12 to 15 hours a week prepping for the games.
He says every player is different - from Cam Newton to Luke Kuechly to Greg Olsen.
"Olsen likes his 'Kings of Leon,' but if that is being played during Cam's stretch time, he is not going to like that," said Esposito.
Esposito says there are strategies and plans that fans may not even realize during training and game-days.
“We play a different song, the tunnel song when everyone comes out. The stadium hears one song, we play a different song in the tunnel for the players,” said Esposito. “Cam Newton just busted through three tackles, I may play the 'Superman Theme' or 'The Dab.'”
Esposito meets with players to understand what gets them ready to play but also surveys fans during the games to make sure they are hearing what they want as well.
"There is nothing random about this at all," said Esposito. “Players have told me coming back from injury, or taking the field, 'we want to hear that or this.' It obviously plays a role.”
The one thing the team is still searching for: one song that defines the team.
“I think everyone searches for that," said Esposito. "It is very hard to find because it is lightning in a bottle. You have to capture it in the right moment - and when it hits that moment, you can continue it on."
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