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Keep Pounding: More than football game motivation

Keep pounding.keep-pounding-drum

The Carolina Panthers, playing in the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos, adopted this motto several years ago, and it is literally part of the fabric of the team. Before home games they bring out a large, bass drum decorated in team colors and have a fan or team member pound it. Those two words, “keep pounding”  are stitched into the collars of their jerseys (literally the fabric of the team). They mention it in interviews, sell merchandise with it, write it on billboards and banners, and finish tweets with the hashtag #keeppounding.

It sounds like great athletic motivation. Keep going. Keep working. Keep trying. Keep pounding. But for the Panthers and their fans, it is so much more. It is bigger than even the biggest game.

At the beginning of the 2003-04 season, former player and then coach Sam Mills received a tragic diagnosis. He had intestinal cancer and was told he had only a few months to live. He wouldn’t let it stop him though. He just kept coaching.

On January 2, 2004, on the eve of the Panthers appearance in the playoffs, Coach Mills addressed the team. “When I found out I had cancer,” he began, “there were two things I could do: quit or keep pounding. I’m a fighter. I kept pounding. You’re fighters too. Keep pounding.”

Statue of player and coach Sam Mills at the Carolina Panthers stadium.

The Panthers took that advice to heart. Twelve years later, a generation in football terms, they continue to keep pounding both on and off the field.

On their official website there is a Keep Pounding page where they write, “The spirit of Keep Pounding encourages cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones to always ‘Keep Pounding’ to overcome obstacles in their lives, just as we hope that someday a cure will be found and cancer will be overcome.”

One of the ways they bring encouragement to survivors is through that large bass drum that is sounded before the games. Many of those who pound the drum are survivors. They hit the drum four times, representing the four quarters of a football game, a sign that you have to keep pounding “ON EVERY. SINGLE. PLAY,” as the tribute to Sam Mills in the stadium says.

Braylon Beam was 6 years old when he pounded the drum before a home game. He is surviving cancer that attacked his optic nerve. In an interview with ESPN, Braylon’s dad talked about the two-word rally cry “keep pounding.”

It’s not just a slogan for a team to represent perseverance over obstacles. You’ve gotta do this. You don’t have a choice. And that slogan means a lot to us because that’s what we think. We’re like, “Braylon, keep pounding buddy.”

You need to learn more about Braylon by watching this ESPN video.

You and I face adversity. We struggle. We want to quit. But we need to keep going, keep trying, keep pounding EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

As Coach Mills said to his team, there are two things each of us can do when faced with adversity: quit or keep pounding.

Keep pounding. 

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