As a Panthers fan I am going to call a spade a spade.
Andre Neblett got caught cheating.
And man, that's disappointing to hear.
I use the phrase "got caught cheating" because generic statements like "Andre Neblett has been suspended four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy on performance-enhancing substances" glosses over what he did.
In the end, Neblett cheated. And - dang it! - as a Panthers fan it bums me out to learn this.
DT Andre Neblett has emerged as one of my favorite members of the Panthers' defensive unit. I normally root for hungry, ego-less, undrafted free agents to defy the odds, make the roster, and ultimately contribute on the field. And that is exactly what Neblett did, so I openly cheered for him. I guess I'm a sucker for feel-good stories.
But I have no tolerance for cheaters. And now it appears that is what Andre Neblett is.
Neblett's 2010 Season
My affinity for Andre Neblett began when he made the Panthers' roster in 2010 as an undrafted free agent rookie out of Temple.
Most Panthers fans have done our best to erase the 2-14 2010 season from our memories, but one of the few bright spots from that horrendous year was watching UFA rookie Andre Neblett contribute. In 2010 Neblett got more playing time late in the year and in the Panthers' final four games he contributed nine tackles, seven of which were solos.
I liked how Andre Neblett finished out his 2010 rookie season, and I was pulling for him coming into 2011.
Neblett's 2011 Season
In 2011 Andre Neblett continued his progress. He played in 12 games, starting four of them, and contributed 23 tackles, 2.5 sacks and recovered two fumbles.
Neblett played particularly well late in the 2011 season.
For example, in Week 13 Neblett stuffed the Tampa Bay Buccanners' RB Mossis Madu for a two yard loss on a 3rd-and-1 late in the game, essentially sealing the Panthers' victory.
In Week 16, once again against the Bucs, Andre Neblett recovered a Kellen Winslow fumble 26-yards from the line of scrimmage. Any time a defensive lineman makes a play that far downfield it shows a degree of hustle, heart, and hunger.
That's why I liked Andre Neblett so much.
And that is why I am so disappointed to learn that he has been cheating.
Don't get me wrong - I am not trying to kill the guy. Neblett cheated, got caught, will pay the price, and I'm disappointed. Period.
I am a sucker for feel-good stories, especially undrafted free agents who defy the odds and contribute to their teams.
But now, with Andre Neblett, the story just doesn't feel quite so good.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Panthers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check these out articles: