Ex-Panthers & Packers DE Julius Peppers, 39, Retires After 266 Games
For years, Julius Peppers did the unthinkable. He led the locker room, beat up offensive lines and never missed a beat. In fact, he played 266 out of 272 possible games in his career.
Born and raised in the Carolinas, he was drafted No. 2 overall out of the University of North Carolina by the Carolina Panthers. He’d win the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2002 and quickly morph into a monster. By his sophomore season in 2003, the expansion team had reached the Super Bowl and almost stopped the New England Patriots dynasty before it began.
He stayed with the team till 2009, teamed up briefly with Brian Urlacher on the Chicago Bears, and then tried to win a ring with Aaron Rodgers on the Green Bay Packers. However, in 2017 he found his way back home to the Panthers, who were coming off another Super Bowl loss.
Now, at 39, Peppers is projected to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He’s fourth all-time with 159.5 career sacks, behind only Bruce Smith, Reggie White, and Kevin Greene. The closest active player to him is Terrell Suggs with 132.5.
On Friday morning, the Panthers tweeted out a video captioned, “Julius Peppers has something to say…” The video showcased Peppers’ love of North Carolina, football and helping out in the community.
Julius Peppers has something to say… pic.twitter.com/VKGjFmlWum
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) February 1, 2019
This year, Peppers was nominated for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. On the field, he was also the epitome of consistency. He reached seven sacks in all but two of his seasons, including a career-high 14.5 in 2008.
“Julius is one of the greatest to ever play the game of football,” coach Ron Rivera said in a statement. “To put up the numbers he did for as long as he did speaks to his incredible talent and commitment. He is a leader in the locker room and in the community.”
“He’s a special player and a special person,” said General Manager Marty Hurney, who made Peppers his first draft pick. “His consistency and the ability to make big plays at big times are what define him on the field. Off the field, he’s a great leader. He chooses his words carefully. He’s got great perspective not only on football but on life. For him to be able to come back and finish his career as a Panther is a great ending to a phenomenal career.”
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