Pride of Breaux Bridge leads Panthers to victory again

"A Delhomme in every home." -- campaign slogan of Jack Delhomme, mayor of Breaux Bridge, La.

I don't know the ins and outs of politics on the bayou, but since Jack Delhomme has been mayor of Breaux Bridge for a good while now, I'm guessing he's doing something right. But then capability seems to run in the family. After all, his cousin Jake has the Carolina Panthers tied for first in the ultra-competitive NFC South.

And in what's turning into a pretty good season, the Panthers may have had their biggest win of the year last week against the Packers. All teams prize wins of course. But some wins just feel better than others. This was one those. Down by three with under two minutes to play. On the road. In Lambeau, no less, against a Packers team dying to atone for its sloppy loss the week before. This was a game that looked hard on paper. And nearly impossible late in the fourth quarter. And yet the Panthers won it just the same. That says something about their team. That the win came very late says even more about their quarterback who seems to have a knack for late-game rescues. Just ask the Chargers, or the Cardinals. Or now, the Packers.

Actually, the fact that Delhomme is the Panthers' starting quarterback at all is a victory in itself. Last February, he underwent Tommy John surgery to repair ligament damage in his right elbow. Not every athlete comes back after that. And while the surgery was successful and Delhomme's right elbow is more than ready for the rigors of the NFL, the Panthers aren't exactly pass happy. In fact, they threw all of 17 passes in Green Bay last week (in contrast, Aaron Rodgers threw 45 times). But ask anyone what the biggest play of the game was and to a man they'll say it was Delhomme's perfectly thrown ball to Steve Smith that set up DeAngelo Williams' game-winning score.

It's a gift to be able to find excellence in the clutch, on demand. Delhomme seems to have it. He's a good athlete, but certainly no sprinter and yet he's run for touchdowns each of the past two weeks. He's got a good arm, but not a rocket, and yet twice he's fired absolute missiles to save a game (the pass to Smith this week and the touchdown to Dante Rosario in Week 1).

Where does that come from? Maybe Breaux Bridge, where Jake was born and raised. A town of cypress trees, zydeco music and crawfish boils. It's Cajun country and it's home. And home matters. So much so, that a couple of years ago, Jake and his father spent a stretch of a bayou summer pulling bricks off a small, old house. That house was his grandparents' and he and his dad moved it brick by brick a quarter mile down the road, so that Jake and his wife, Keri, could start their life together there. That's a man whose neither afraid of a challenge, nor working to achieve it. It's also a testament to the power family. And home.

There are lots of Delhommes in and around Breaux Bridge -- almost enough for one in every home. Turns out the Panthers need only one. And while Jake may never have the stats of a star, he's got plenty of teams' number. And, it seems, that je nais se quois that a football team can rally behind. As they say in Breaux Bridge "laissez les bon temps roulez!" -- let the good times roll!

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