Panthers Running Backs Might Run the Best Fan Club Ever

In this age of social media, athletes are connecting with fans more than ever through things like Twitter, Facebook and UStream. Some still go the more traditional route with fan clubs. But because so many things are available for free, most tend to scoff at the notion of paying for the privilege to read a few crummy blog posts and a picture an autograph anonymously sent to you via snail mail. That's so 1990s. ↵

↵So you can understand why the numbers were low for the fan club DoubleTrouble3428.com, which is dedicated to Panthers running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. They wanted $34.28 to join and become a "troublemaker." (For the record, the money goes to Williams' foundation, which fights breast cancer.) The payoff for the few who joined was huge on Wednesday night at Sports Connection in Ballantyne, which is south Uptown Charlotte, where the Panthers play. ↵

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↵Yes, that is DeAngelo Williams wearing some sort of costume to look like a monster. We can't decide if it's the Predator, a werewolf, a zombie or something else. (We'll get to why he was wearing it to begin with in a bit.) ↵

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↵To the fans who actually shelled out the $34.28 -- the jersey numbers of Williams and Stewart -- they were treated to a night of drinks, laser tag and even cake with the two running backs, a host of other Panthers, and yes, even head coach John Fox. ↵

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↵A firsthand account on the laser tag action, from our photographer and Double Trouble fan club member, Kevin McDonald, via e-mail: ↵

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↵⇥John Fox popped out of nowhere and screamed at me as I attacked his base. ↵⇥

↵⇥Fox's team won, and I think it you can attribute it to good coaching. He devised an "agressor & defense" strategy that utilized a kid in #89 flanking the sides of the arena, while others in 34 28 rushed up the middle to storm the base. Fox stayed by his base and played defense... ↵⇥

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↵⇥surprise, surprise... ↵⇥

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↵⇥I still retreated faster than Tom Coughlin in Week 16 when Coach Fox blasted me with his laser. ↵⇥

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↵So as if the random invite for a small group of fans to play laser tag wasn't funny enough, there's this whole matter of the costume. Why was DeAngelo Williams dressed like some undead creature? ↵

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↵Well, evidently Williams is quite the fan of horror flicks, but for this occasion it was an homage to Michael Jackson. The running backs brought in a choreographer and had the entire group reenact the video for Thriller. People invited were asked to bring Halloween costumes, but weren't told why. (By the way, put yourself in that position, you're invited to a laser tag venue, at night, by an NFL player, and told to bring a Halloween costume with no explanation. Yeah, you might think twice.) Evidence of the Thriller shoot below. ↵

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↵The video is being edited as we speak, according to McDonald, so hopefully the Thriller video is up soon. We'll be sure to bring it to you as soon as it's up. ↵

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↵There was more, like players and Coach Fox receiving gifts that ranged from beer helmets to a four-wheeler, and the fans on hand snapped photos and grabbed autographs. Something tells me that after word of this event gets out, the numbers in the Double Trouble fan club will be significantly stronger next season. (If you want to sign up, click here.) ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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