CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CHARLOTTE SPORTS LIVE) – When English poet Alfred Tennyson wrote the line, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” he wasn’t talking about coming up short in the Super Bowl.

However, the phrase resonates with some Panthers who have played and suffered defeat in the big game.

“That’s why it’s an old saying that has stuck around forever because it is true,” said Mike Minter, who played for Carolina from 1997-2006.

It’s been 19 years since Minter suited up for Carolina in Super Bowl 38. That day, the Panthers lost to New England 32-29.

Twelve years later, in 2016, Kurt Coleman and his squad went down to Denver 24-10. Much has changed for both men in the years that have followed, yet the memories of the game, and the events leading up to it, are still crystal clear.

“I remember the day after the NFC championship game,” said Coleman, who played for Carolina from 2015-2017. “We literally had a team meeting the next morning, and it was, ‘alright, you have 24 hours to decide how many tickets you want and who’s traveling with you.’ There’s just so much information you’re trying to figure out.”

Decisions, decisions.

Not to mention distractions, distractions.

It didn’t matter who you were on the team, everyone was getting attention, and for both former Carolina safeties, it always seemed to be a constant struggle between soaking it all in and keeping their focus on the task at hand.

“I’m on the stage, SportsCenter!” said Minter smiling at the craziness of it all.

As for the games, both came down to the end.

In 2004, a field goal from Adam Vinatieri won it for New England, while in 2016, the Broncos’ defense was the difference, effectively shutting down the high-powered attack from Cam Newton and the Panthers’ offense.

“I look back at that, and I still haven’t watched the game,” Coleman admits. “And I hardly ever take my NFC Championship ring out.”

Time clearly does not heal all wounds. There are losses, and then there’s a loss in the Super Bowl.

However, both Minter and Coleman have no regrets about what they did playing for a championship.

Minter, now the head coach of Campbell University, broke his leg in the third quarter yet played on, never accepting defeat, even in defeat.

“Life is not over if you don’t obtain what you want in that moment,” he said about what he learned from the loss. “You got to get back up, dust yourself off and get back in the game.”

A lesson learned the hard way, but it’s an experience neither would trade for anything.

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