By Zach Goins
May 13, 2022
In the NFL, the annual schedule release has become something of a league-wide holiday.
What was once the simple reveal of a team’s schedule of games for the season has transformed into a competition between all 32 digital media teams. The schedule release is now an opportunity for the meme masterminds behind your favorite NFL team’s social media handles to flex their creativity.
Crafting the perfect schedule release video is an intricate challenge. It must be witty and clever without feeling as if it’s trying too hard, but it also has to be topical and tie into the pop culture zeitgeist.
Carolina Panthers fans have been spoiled over the years, with the hometown team perennially ranking among the league’s very best when it comes to schedule releases. There was the retro video game theme in 2019, followed by a day-in-the-life quarantine style release in 2020, and last year’s release, which was so meta that the schedule release was about the actual schedule release.
But this year, the Panthers outdid themselves with an epic quasi-POV ‘90s throwback experience packed with nostalgia and easter eggs.
From Montell Jordan’s iconic 1995 breakout single, “This Is How We Do It,” to Nike Bo Jackson sneakers, Tamagotchis, Nintendo, slap bracelets, and dial-up internet, the blast from the past was custom made for ‘90s pop culture lovers. But how did the idea come about?
“We talked through what we wanted to do and there were a couple ideas thrown around, and we decided to settle on something nostalgic,” Panthers social media manager Angela Denogean said.
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With nostalgia as their guide, the Panthers digital media team partnered with production company Upside Films to bring it to life.
“I’ve always felt nostalgia is one of the most powerful emotions, and we’ve played into it in years past,” said Carson Smucker, owner at Upside Films and former Panthers digital video producer. “We all came up with the most nostalgic things we could think of from our childhoods. We had a list of like 50 different things that we remembered as kids.”
Now that the dust has settled from free agency + draft + schedule release, three women who helped carry much of the content deserve recognition:@nellez_ @Angela_Denogean
Twitterless Megan Verceles Carr
They built sets, set houses and set standards for other teams. pic.twitter.com/0mvtQj1zdQ
— Bill Voth (@PanthersBill) May 13, 2022
While Smucker and Upside Films led the video’s direction and editing, it was the Panthers’ internal creative team, led by Denogean and senior director of content Bill Voth, who brought the idea of the blended first-person and third-person video to life. But in order to properly transport fans back to the ‘90s, the look had to be authentic– which meant Denogean, social media coordinator Megan Verceles Carr and team photographer Chanelle Smith-Walker had to scour thrift stores for weeks and overhaul an Airbnb with the retro look.
“The big stars of this are Megan and Chanelle,” Denogean said. “In the beginning, they literally were at Salvation Army, they went to Goodwill, they went to all these thrift stores just finding stuff for the house. Megan and Chanelle literally decorated that entire house.”
Schedule release ✅ pic.twitter.com/3qtjwsEyHz
— Chanelle Smith-Walker (@nellez_) May 13, 2022
Considering the team got a shoutout from Montell Jordan himself, it’s safe to say the video passed the authenticity test.
“That song literally took the video to the next level,” Denogean said. When you hear music it takes you back to what you were doing when you heard the song.”
Had to share this. What a great way to announce the season. 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/Urtv5DCcmv
— Montell Jordan (@montelljordan) May 13, 2022
In years past, the concept behind the team’s schedule release has always been kept tightly under wraps and debuted as a big surprise all at once, but this year’s throwback theme had a slightly different approach– fans just didn’t know it. On Monday of release week, the team began posting covers of a ‘90s-inspired faux magazine called “The Rewind” that featured players like DJ Moore and Shaq Thompson rocking retro outfits and posing like iconic ‘90s artists.
At the time, the series (photographed and designed by Smith-Walker) just seemed like a fun way to highlight players during a time when there’s little football action to keep fans engaged. However, looking back with the schedule release theme in mind, it became clear that Denogean, Verceles Carr and Smith-Walker had been planting the seeds all week long.
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“I was really proud of how those magazines brought us into the schedule release,” Denogean said. “We had content for an entire week, whether people thought it was schedule-related or not. It was just another way to showcase our player personalities and highlight them off the field.”
After months of preparation and planning, it was clear the digital media team was taking the schedule release seriously, but Denogean expressed that getting that level of participation from players was vital and showed how much the Panthers organization as a whole cares about its fans.
“We make a pretty big deal about it,” Voth said. “It does make fans excited. Once people start seeing the product itself and then they start seeing how fans are reacting and people outside the market are reacting, that gives a lot of satisfaction internally.”
It’s Thursday night, and we feel alright 😎 pic.twitter.com/2eIiNvK1tU
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) May 13, 2022
In all the fun of the video’s production, it’s easy to forget that at the end of the day, it was created to share the Panthers 2022 schedule.
Here are some games to highlight for the 2022 season:
Week 1: Panthers vs. Browns
Sunday, September 11 at 1:00 p.m.
The season opener will be at home in Bank of America Stadium and this will be the first look fans get at the 2022 Panthers. With a new offensive coordinator and question marks under center, it’s hard to say what Carolina’s offense will look like come opening day– but Cleveland’s offense will have a new face at quarterback in Deshaun Watson barring any suspensions.
Week 6: Panthers at Rams
Sunday, October 16 at 1:00 p.m.
The Panthers make the trip out west to visit the reigning Super Bowl champion Rams. By Week 6, fans should have an idea of how this season will unfold for Carolina– and a matchup with the league’s best could either be a great measuring stick, or a brutal beatdown.
Week 7: Panthers vs. Buccaneers
Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 p.m.
Could this be the GOAT’s final trip to Carolina as an NFL quarterback, or will Tom Brady forgo retirement again and continue winning Super Bowls until 2050? At this point, anything is possible. While Brady will still be leading the offense this season, the Bucs will have a bit of a new look with former defensive coordinator Todd Bowles taking over as head coach. Tampa Bay is predicted to lead the NFC South again this year, but the Panthers have had some epic clashes with Brady.
Week 9: Panthers at Bengals
Sunday, November 6 at 1:00 p.m.
For a last place schedule, the Panthers sure ended up unlucky to face off against both teams from last year’s Super Bowl. The Bengals are poised for another stellar season with quarterback Joe Burrow, so this trip to the other Queen City, Cincinnati, may be a better chance to see the opponent’s budding superstar under center rather than the Panthers. On the bright side, this game marks the end of a brutal four-week stretch that pits Carolina against 2021 playoff teams in three of four games.
Week 10: Panthers vs. Falcons
Thursday, November 10 at 8:45 p.m.
Prime time football returns to Uptown Charlotte for Thursday Night Football. This will mark the Panthers second clash with the NFC South rival Falcons in 11 days, with the first meeting in Atlanta in Week 8. After trading franchise quarterback Matt Ryan to the Colts, the Falcons are rebuilding just like the Panthers, which makes this game a race to re-establish dominance in the teams’ rivalry.
Week 16: Panthers vs. Lions
Sunday, December 24 at 1:00 p.m
Looking for a last-minute Christmas gift? A trip to Bank of America Stadium for Christmas Eve just might do the trick. Considering the Panthers are playing the Lions– one of the League’s worst teams in 2021– an extra present might be delivered in the form of a victory.
Week 18: Panthers at Saints (TBA)
It’s been five seasons since the Panthers last had a meaningful game to end the season, and it’s far too early to tell if this game will make it six in a row. This could be a crucial NFC South decider, or have a critical impact on the Panthers draft position in 2023. The date and time for this one won’t be set until post-Week 17, as two Week 18 games will take place on Saturday and the rest will fall on Sunday.
Check out the full 2022 Carolina Panthers schedule and information on tickets.