Fan apologizes for inciting TB defense

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --The Carolina Panthers fan who briefly
inspired the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by taunting their defense has
apologized and said his comments were spur of the moment.

Joe Muscarello, aka the "Carolina Prowler," was selected as
the "Fan of the Game" in the fourth quarter of Sundays' game.

Handed the microphone during a timeout with Carolina leading
20-14, Muscarello -- dressed in full cat attire -- called out Bucs
defender Simeon Rice for guaranteeing Tampa Bay would win.

"Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp, you guaranteed a win," he said
as he was being broadcast on the Ericsson Stadium scoreboard.
"Well, we guarantee we're going to kick your butt."

Rice then registered two sacks on the next three plays and the
Bucs took a 24-20 lead. Carolina rallied for a 27-24 victory in the
closing minute.

Muscarello, a loan specialist for Bank of America, has since

"If I offended anyone -- and especially the team or coaching
staff -- I apologize," Muscarello told The Charlotte Observer. "I
wanted to get our fans fired up. I didn't even think about getting
Tampa Bay fired up."

The crowd initially loved Muscarello's comments. But as the
momentum shifted to the Bucs, Muscarello said he began to feel

"People around me were saying 'I think you got the other team
fired up,' " he said. "I had visions of people coming up in my
face screaming."

Muscarello, who attended the game with his 9-year-old son, left
his seats before the finish to avoid the crowd.

He said he'll be back Sunday for Carolina's game against the
Washington Redskins in his cat outfit, but with a little less

"Next time, I'll have to hold my enthusiasm a little bit," he
said. "I apologize for the comments, but not for being a fan."