Vote for the greatest Panther
WR/KR/PR Steve Smith
It may sound outlandish at first, but Smith could very well be the best pound-for-pound receiver in NFL history. At just 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, the former Utah Ute has had over 1,000 yards receiving four times in his nine full seasons and consistently out-jumps taller defenders for balls that are up for grabs. He’s made the Pro Bowl four times, including his rookie year when he went to Hawai’i as a kick returner. His career year came in 2005 when, coming off missing an entire season to injury, Smith won the unofficial “Triple Crown” for wide receivers, leading the NFL in receptions, yards and TDs, not to mention winning the league’s Comeback Player of the Year award. Oh yeah, he’s done all this despite playing with 10 different starting quarterbacks in 10 seasons.
WR Muhsin Muhammad
The franchise’s first dominant offensive player, Muhammad played for Carolina 11 years, two of which ended up with him playing in the Pro Bowl. The Michigan State product led the NFL in receptions in 2000, then ranked No. 1 in both receiving yards and TDs in 2004. He still holds the record for longest TD reception in Super Bowl history (85 yards), and his 11,438 career receiving yards ranks 22nd in the history of the league.
DE Julius Peppers
The Panthers have had their share of terrific defensive players don the black, blue and silver (Sam Mills, Reggie White, Kevin Greene, Greg Lloyd, Mike Minter), but not even the Hall of Famers among that group can match Peppers’ freakish athleticism. The Bailey, N.C., native and North Carolina Tar Heel two-sport standout, he played on UNC’s Final Four hoops team in 2000, was a crowd favorite from the word ‘go’ – and for good reason. Peppers was the 2002 Rookie of the Year and has gone to six Pro Bowls in his nine seasons in the league, numbering 89 sacks, three defensive touchdowns and an astounding nine blocked kicks along the way.
QB Jake Delhomme
Steve Beuerlein had an astounding 8,166 yards and 55 TDs in two seasons prior to Delhomme’s arrival, making the transition difficult for the former Saint who threw just 86 passes in four seasons for Carolina’s division rival. However, nobody can deny the fact that Delhomme was the heart and soul of this franchise the day he became the starter in 2003. Of course, that just so happened to be the one and only season the Panthers made it to the Super Bowl, a game in which Delhomme was outstanding, throwing for 323 yards and three touchdowns. He ended his six full seasons as Carolina’s QB with over 19,000 yards and 120 TDs and the admiration of most diehard Panthers fans.
PK John Kasay
This is what happens when you play in the NFL for 20 years, including all 16 of the seasons the Carolina Panthers have been in existence. The only original Panther remaining on the roster, Kasay’s made 81.9 percent of his career field goal attempts and is still one of the most consistent kickers in the game today. A Pro Bowl selection in 1996 when he set the all-time record for field goals in a season (37), Kasay currently ranks seventh in league history with 433 three balls and has been a pillar of the Charlotte community from day one.