The Duel

VIDEO: Remembering When the Carolina Panthers' Mascot Recovered a Punt During a Live NFL Game

Tristan Jung
Sir Purr made a surprise appearance during a Panthers game in 1996.
Sir Purr made a surprise appearance during a Panthers game in 1996. / Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers mascot "Sir Purr" had a mission on Dec. 22, 2016. Standing at the back of the end zone during a regular-season game between the Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers, the Carolina mascot was going to make his mark.

During a routine Steelers punt that wobbled into the end zone, for some inexplicable reason, the Panthers' mascot decided to make a play.

Sir Purr, dressed in a full Santa Claus costume, duly recovered the kick. You can suppose that Sir Purr thought the ball was dead because it was clearly going for a touchback and the Panthers players were hoping the ball would bounce out of bounds. However, the ball was very clearly live, but Sir Purr decided to solve the problem himself.

The referee, rather surprised, threw a penalty flag. Steelers coach Bill Cowher reportedly laughed at the incident and was thankful when the referee decided to pick up the flag and lecture the mascot rather than give the Steelers 15 yards. This was a meaningless Week 17 game for the Steelers at the time, but one can only imagine if it had happened during an important game.

There's no word on whether the Panthers' 12th player was fired or kept on for the rest of the season, but Carolina would ultimately win this game, 18-14, to secure a 12-4 record.

This was also the Panthers' first playoff bid in franchise history. We haven't seen a mascot make a play during a game since, but it'd definitely set the internet ablaze if it happened.

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Tristan Jung is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Tristan Jung also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username tristan1117. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.