With the NFL’s Carolina Panthers set to host the Arizona Cardinals this weekend with a NFC Championship and Super Bowl berth on the line, it’s hard to find two people anywhere who are more pumped for the big game than Sprint Cup Series drivers Austin and Ty Dillon.
The two brothers, separated in age by just a little more than two years, live in the Charlotte, North Carolina area and are passionate supporters of the home team, which has arguably been the NFL’s most pleasant surprise of the 2015-16 season.
Both Dillon brothers attend Panthers’ games as often as possible, and both plan to be in the house for Sunday night’s high-stakes contest at Charotte’s Bank of America Stadium.
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But when it comes to who’s the bigger Panthers’ fan, the Dillon boys suddenly aren’t in so much harmony.
"Me," said Ty, the younger Dillon brother, without hesitation. "He used to be a Saints’ fan, so what does that tell you? That’s not even a thing if you’re a Panthers’ fan.
"He’s a Panthers’ fan now. He has been for the last couple years; I’ll give him that," Ty said of his older sibling. "But he was a Saints’ fan not too long ago. Then he was a (New England Patriots’ quarterback) Tom Brady fan for a while, so he kind of skips around. I’ve been diehard Panthers since the day I was born."
Austin’s version of how long he’s been a Panthers’ enthusiast is a bit different, however.
"Yeah, my grandfather (team owner Richard Childress) had season tickets for a long time and he actually sold them," Austin said. "I wish he would have had them now — it would be unbelievable — but I went and bought my own PSLs (Permanent Seat Licenses) about four years ago … and have been going ever since. It’s been fun to stick to a team and watch them."
So does Austin believe he’s more deeply entrenched with the Panthers than little bro?
"I’m going to say me, for sure," he said. "I’ve been giving my support a lot. I don’t know. We both enjoy the Panthers and get mutually excited to watch them play."
When all else fails, let’s let the boys’ grandfather, team owner and the one they call "Pop Pop" settle the debate on who’s the fiercer Panthers’ loyalist.
"Both of them," Childress said. "You don’t say anything wrong about the Panthers to either one of them. They’d even jump ol ‘Pop Pop.’ "