Twenty years ago, I began work at The Charlotte Observer in a world without smartphones, Twitter and HDTVs. Cam Newton was four years old.
Since then, I have written about three million words for this newspaper in close to 7,000 days of work.
This is not a retirement column. Hopefully, you and I will carry on this sports conversation for another decade or two.
But it is a look back at 20 of my most memorable days in this job.
Most of them were great. A few were terrible. In chronological order, here’s my personal “20 for 20”:
For my first story, I wrote about a brand new floor put down specifically for the games at the now-extinct Charlotte Coliseum.
Trying too hard to make a good first impression, I wrote the first two paragraphs of the story in rhyme (“No score. No lore. No days of yore.”) Fortunately for me, my bosses didn’t fire me after that one. Ever since, I have ditched the rhyming approach.
The Wrights were and are terrific people, and I will always be indebted to them for allowing me to tell this story, which in turn gave me the opportunity to write a number of other multipart stories for the newspaper (some of them are on my website under “favorite stories” at www.ScottFowlerSports.com).
But 2001 also saw the death of Dale Earnhardt, the Charlotte Hornets inching closer to their departure to New Orleans and the Panthers bottoming out at 1-15. It was awful.
Then Newton surprised them all by showing up. No one charms kids more completely than Newton does, and the looks on those children’s faces that day is something I will still remember in 20 more years.