End of an Era

Fans say goodbye to an all-time great as Julius Peppers hanging up his cleats (Photo courtesy of Pantherscentre).

Photo courtesy of Pantherscentre

Fans say goodbye to an all-time great as Julius Peppers hanging up his cleats (Photo courtesy of Pantherscentre).

After 17 seasons in the National Football League, defensive end Julius Peppers has announced retirement at age 39. Peppers played with the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, and Green Bay Packers before hanging up his cleats after the 2018 season.

Peppers announced his retirement in an article called “17 and Out” he posted on the Player’s Tribune this morning. In his article, he wrote, “Seventeen years is a long time to be playing this game. It’s two careers for a lot of people, I’m thankful that I have been able to play so long and still be healthy. I’m not all banged up and beaten down. I still feel good.”

He finished fourth on the all-time sack list behind Kevin Greene, Reggie White, and Bruce Smith. Peppers also finished second on the all-time forced fumbles with 52 fumbles behind Linebacker Robert Mathis (54 fumbles). Many people consider Peppers a first ballot Hall of Fame Player.

“When I look back on my 17 years in the NFL, one thing that stands out to me — besides the people — is how your view of the game changes over time,” said Peppers in his article.

Peppers was drafted in the first round by the Carolina Panthers with the second pick. He went on to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. Peppers was also part of the 2003 Carolina Panthers team that went to the Super Bowl. They eventually lost by a game-winning field goal.

“We went to the Super Bowl in my second season. And when Adam Vinatieri made that kick to basically end it … I didn’t necessarily understand the gravity of the moment. I mean, it felt terrible to lose. It always does. But my thought process was, It’s O.K. We’ll be back next year,” said Peppers in his video.

Even though Peppers never won a ring, he still continued to dominate on and off the field. Peppers was voted to nine Pro Bowls and was First-Team All-Pro three times. Peppers is a nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award this year. Peppers organized Hurricane relief for people across the Carolinas and he started it off by pledging 100,000 dollars. He also went and handed out necessities to those in need.

Because North Carolina is home, man. I love the people there, and I wouldn’t be the man I am today if I didn’t grow up amongst you and been lucky enough to play in front of fans like you for as long as I did. So thank you for the support and the understanding,” said Julius Peppers.

Throughout his NFL career, Peppers has grown and matured as a player. In his video, he said, At the end of the day, the wins are the wins and the losses are the losses. But the relationships are everything.

While it might be hard for Panthers fans to say goodbye to the all-time great they drafted back in 2002, it makes it a little sweeter knowing he is destined for a spot in the Hall of Fame.