Yes, right now Charlotte is a snowy, icy, sleety mess.
But we can say this with 100 percent confidence: The NFC Championship Game between the Panthers and the Cardinals will be played Sunday.
Simply put, it takes a weather event of epic proportions to even get the NFL to budge, and even in epic situations, the league only budges a bit: The last time snow affected an NFL game was November 2014, when six feet of snow caused a game between Buffalo and the New York Jets to be moved to Detroit’s Ford Field.
Six feet of snow. And they still played the game, just somewhere else.
So the question is not “Will the game be played?” – in fact, Sunday’s forecast is for brilliant sunshine all day and mostly clear skies all night – but rather “How many of the fans who were planning to be here for it will make it to Bank of America Stadium?”
American Airlines canceled all flights to and from Charlotte on Friday due to the impending winter storm. So did Delta, United, Southwest, Lufthansa, Air Canada, ViaAir and JetBlue.
And naturally, people who had intended to get here a couple of days early for the game have suddenly found themselves scrambling for a solution, or scrapping their plans completely.
Las Vegas resident Brittney Cason, a former Panthers TopCat as well as a former correspondent for the Observer, had planned on returning to her old stomping grounds this weekend to meet friends for the game. But Delta canceled her Friday flight and couldn’t get her rebooked on anything until Sunday.
“They offered to reroute me to Asheville, but I didn’t want to risk driving,” Cason said, “so they refunded me in full. ... I figure the snow will enhance our boys’ home field advantage, so I’m not that upset.”
It’s also easy to forget that hundreds of working national media members are trying to get here, too – and that they’re struggling just like everybody else.
Some, jokingly, have wondered aloud whether the Panthers win the NFC Championship by default if the Cardinals can’t get a flight to Charlotte.
The Cardinals, seriously, have an answer:
As for the Panthers? Here’s what they’re saying this morning:
Do you or anyone you know have plans to be at Sunday’s game that are being disrupted by the winter storm in Charlotte? Call 704-358-5897 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.