Carolina Panthers Top 5 Players of all Time
5 Most Influential Players to Play for the Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers are the second youngest franchise in the NFL behind the Houston Texans. In 1987, Jerry Richardson announced his bid to begin an expansion franchise in the Carolinas. Richardson was a former NFL player and is still the current owner of the team. The Panthers began competing in 1995 and set a record for best record by an NFL expansion team in their first season, finishing 7-9. The following year, the Panthers finished with an amazing 12-4 record and reached the NFC Championship game before losing to the Green Bay Packers. After that season, the Panthers began to struggle and didn’t have another winning season until 2003.
Since the start of the franchise, the Panthers have only reached the Super Bowl once. It was in 2003 where they lost to the New England Patriots in a tight 29-32 game. Fans have long waited to see the team make it back to the Super Bowl. After the fantastic 2008 season where their journey ended quite abruptly in a loss the first round of the playoffs, the Panthers began a quick decent. In 2010, they hit rock bottom becoming the worst team in the league. However, since drafting quarterback Cam Newton in the first round, the Panthers have slowly but surely been on the rise. With a slow start to the new 2013 season, the Panthers are looking to make a run for first place in the division and claim a spot in the playoffs.
This season the Panthers have one of the best looking rosters since the beginning of the franchise. It is filled with great young talent and also star veterans. These young athletes have great potential to make record breaking history and carry the team through many successful seasons. However, here is a list of the top five players to wear a Panthers jersey and call the Carolinas home.
Patrick Newton is a Carolina Panthers writer for Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @SirNewton17, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.
5. Jake Delhomme
Love or hate the guy, Jake Delhomme has the best success with the Panthers thus far. He signed with the Panthers in 2003 as a free agent. In the first game of the season, the Panthers were down 0-17 with Rodney Peete at quarterback. Head coach John Fox elected to put Delhomme in the game. He ended up throwing three touchdowns and led the team to a late fourth quarter comeback. From there, it was all up hill. Delhomme led the team on eight game winning drives in the fourth quarter in 2003 and led them to the Super Bowl. Delhomme also took the Panthers to the playoffs in 2005 and 2008. The Panthers have the best stretch of records under his belt. Delhomme had the passion and heart for the game and was considered a great leader. For this reason, he is No. 5 on the list.
4. Muhsin Muhammad
Next is Muhsin Muhammad. He was drafted 1996 by the Panthers in the second round. After two slow seasons, Muhammad took off in 1998 leading the Panthers with 68 receptions for almost 1,000 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Following that season, Muhammad made his presence felt and was acknowledged by the NFL when he was elected to his first Pro Bowl ever. Muhammed was part of the team when they reached the Super Bowl, and even set a record for longest touchdown reception. In 2004, he led the league with a career high 1,405 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. At the end of the 2004 season, Muhammed held all of the Panthers’ receiving records. Muhammad was a fantastic receiver and was loved by the fans. He played 11 great seasons for the Panthers and this earns him the No. 4 spot on the list.
3. John Kasay
Next on the list is field-goal kicker John Kasay. He was originally drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 1991. For the next four years, he led the team in scoring. He then made his debut with the Panthers in 1995. He played 15 seasons with the Panthers and was considered a machine with how accurate and reliable he was. Kasay virtually owns all of the kicking records along with being the all-time points’ leader for the Panthers. Kasay was the last original player on the Panthers roster until 2011 when he was released. Kasay is the best kicker the Panthers have ever had, and this earns him the No. 3 spot on this list.
2. Steve Smith
The next player on the list is another wide receiver who eventually eclipsed Muhammed in all of the receiving statistics for the Panthers. Steve Smith is currently the only player on this list still playing for the Panthers. In Smith’s first season, he was strictly for special teams. However, he led all rookies in net yardage with 1,994 yards and claimed a spot in fourth place among all NFL players. Smith had a few troubles off the field, but on the field, it is all business. He still has a fire in him that frightens many defenses. He has fantastic hands and quick speed that make him a huge offensive threat. He currently holds all receiving records for the Panthers and is still racking up yards. He is the No. 1 receiver for the Panthers and is still considered to be one of the best in the NFL. He has been a part of the team every year they made the playoffs. He is a huge impact on the offense and still continues to produce yards even at the age of 34. Being a talented wide receiver puts him on the list at No. 2.
1. Sam Mills
First on the list is linebacker Sam Mills. He signed with the Panthers in 1995 where he only played for three years. However, in those three years he started and finished every game. In his 12 seasons in the NFL, he recorded a total of 1,319 tackles, 20.5 sacks, and 11 interceptions with four touchdowns. He also holds the NFL record for oldest player at 37years-old to return a fumble for a touchdown. The reason he is number one on this list is for his contributions after his retirement. He was hired as a coaching staff for the Panthers 1998. In 2003, he was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. He underwent the grueling process of chemotherapy, but continued to coach for the Panthers. He started the “Keep Pounding” campaign for the Panthers. That campaign is still the most inspirational aspect to the organization and is still honored to this day. Mills is the only player to be accepted into the Panthers Hall of Fame, and currently there is a statue in front of Bank of America Stadium to honor this fantastic player, coach, and person. Mills is the most influential and inspiring player to ever wear a Panthers’ jersey. For this, he takes the No. 1 spot on the list.