CAROLINA BLUES Fun and fierce rivalries divide families, friends as Denver Broncos best Panthers in Super Bowl

The friendly rivalry shows between best friends Ben Mill (a Broncos fan) and Doug McGee (a Panthers fan) at Mellow Mushroom in West Ashley’s Avondale neighborhood. Wade Spees/Staff

It was the ultimate showdown Sunday for a local father and son, who have always been united by blood but very much divided by football.

For Blair and Jackson Barna of James Island, years of rivalry and trash-talking came down to one game: Super Bowl 50. The pair were among a large crowd of football fans who watched Sunday’s game at a private Super Bowl party at Mellow Mushroom in West Ashley.

“It’s not so friendly right now,” Jackson joked of how things were going with his dad. “But it’s really exciting for us. We’re the two biggest Broncos and Carolina fans we know and this is like the best scenario ever.”

The 17-year-old Academic Magnet High School student wore a black panther on his head and was proudly sporting his bright blue Cam Newton jersey. He said he had been a Carolina Panthers fan all his life.

His father Blair, on the other hand, grew up a Denver Broncos fan and wore a Peyton Manning jersey declaring his love for the team. Sundays are big days, he said, and he and his son have shared moments at games in Charlotte, Atlanta and Denver, but “this one is special.”

And even though things between them were getting more heated, Blair said their teams going head to head was a “no-lose situation.”

“I’m going to be happy no matter what,” he said. “But I do hope the Broncos kick the Panthers’ (expletive).”

In a little more friendly rivalry across the bar, Ben Mill stuck out like a sore thumb from his friends, who were Carolina Panthers fans. He wasn’t afraid to show his support for the orange and blue.

Mill, 32, of Charleston, wore a Denver Broncos hat, Peyton Manning jersey, blue-and-orange scarf and bronco-covered pants. Even more impressive were his custom-made shoes.

“I’m going to be loud and proud,” Mill said. “And if we win tonight, I’ll be on a plane tomorrow morning.”

Beside him, two of his friends laughed. Doug McGee, 28, and Anna Lazaridis, 32, both of Charleston, were wearing bright blue and boasting about Newton, though they all agreed their banter remained respectful.

“No trash-talking,” McGee said. “We’ve been looking forward to this game — months ago, this is what we were talking about.”

Buffalo Lasher, 29, was more of a neutral force in the group, wearing black and claiming love for the Chicago Bears. He said he was rooting for the Panthers by default because he lives in Charleston.

“I think all Carolina fans are hoping for a blowout, but it will be a close game,” he predicted.

Erin Haselkorn, 30, of Mount Pleasant, didn’t agree. The lifelong Panthers fan wanted her team to “decimate the Broncos.”

“(I’m hoping for) a Panthers extreme victory,” she said.

Reach Melissa Boughton at 843-937-5594 or at