This may be my favorite story of the day. On Sunday, the newest member of the Carolina Panthers needed to get from Los Angeles, CA to Charlotte, NC before his first team breakfast on Monday morning. His flight took him through Columbus, OH, where he got stuck due to the weather. The next available flight wasn’t until Monday morning, after the 7 a.m. breakfast meeting he was scheduled to attend. The player, Zach Banner, had spent his rookie season with the Cleveland Browns, but the Panthers claimed him off waivers in March and he was making his first trip to the facilities for OTAs.
Refusing to make a bad first impression and not be on time, Banner did what any reasonable person would do: rent a car and drive the seven hours to Charlotte. The car he was able to get is a Kia Soul. You may be familiar with the car — it’s nicknamed the Hamster car because of the commercials showing hamsters driving it.
Now, this becomes even more interesting in that Banner is called the Hulk for more than just sharing a last name with the Marvel Comics character of Bruce Banner. The offensive tackle from the University of Southern California stands 6’9″ and weigh in at 360 lbs. Odds were he’d be called The Hulk even if his name was Peter Parker. Banner posted the following to his Instagram account.
zbnflIt’s crazy how this world works when you’re on a path to try and get that you want. At USC i was never late or missed a meeting, practice, lift, or anything. This morning i left my place to leave for Charlotte at 8am PST, and was supposed to be there by 5pm EST. My flight got delayed at first cuz of weather, and I had to stop in Columbus, OH. Then They told me no flights till tomorrow morning, and I had an issue with that because my undefeated streak of being on time would be broken, because breakfast at the @panthers facility is at 7am tomorrow for our first day of OTAs. So I got a rental car, specifically the Notorious Hamster car aka @godswarriorr favorite car. And if @shareecewright2.0 Black ass could do this a year ago, then so can I. This is to all those people a prime example of taking what you want, and earning respect. Don’t just expect it. Pray for me and this journey across the frozen tundras of my old home, into my new one lol.
The reference to Shareece Wright was about him taking an Uber from Chicago, IL to Buffalo, NY to make it to his new team on time.
Banner was in contact with the Panthers, talking with offensive line coach John Matsko, who would call periodically to check in on his new player. Banner arrived safely and made the breakfast meeting, where he was singled out by head coach Ron Rivera, who acknowledged the travel issues and thanked Banner for being there.
Now that he’s there, Banner has turned in the Kia and bought himself a bicycle to get around the area. He posted the below image to his Instagram showing off his new wheels, posing along side the statues in front of the stadium he hopes to be playing in this season.
Good luck, Zach… may Hulk smash many puny defenders.