Carolina Panthers

Panthers' 'Big Hit' glove no longer around

CHARLOTTE -- There's apparently no more love for the glove.

The Panthers latest totem has gone away, apparently out of sensitivity about the appearance of encouraging borderline hits.

Earlier this year, coaches were handing out a pair of boxing gloves for the player who recorded the biggest hit the week before.

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney acknowledged Thursday that after some discussion with the league, the team decided to end the practice.

"We stopped it," Hurney said.

Prior to the decision, the gloves were among the most prized possessions in the locker room. One of the black Everlast boxing gloves hung in the positional meeting room of that week's recipient. The other was displayed proudly in the locker of the guy who had flattened someone. It was only awarded after wins, and could go to offensive, defensive or special teams players. This year's recipients included linebacker Jon Beason (who won it last year), safety Chris Harris, linebacker Na'il Diggs and defensive end Julius Peppers.

"It's a little friendly competition back there," Harris said in October. "After a big hit in a game I will go over and tap Beason and say, 'I think I got the glove this week.' We just have fun out there."

Peppers grinned an uneasy grin last week when asked about his glove's whereabouts, saying: "I don't know anything about that."

Thursday, Beason was sad to report the end of the tradition.

"Oh man, we don't do that anymore around here," Beason said, shaking his head. "I guess they thought it was a bad deal. I guess (to some people) it represents teams going after people."

Team officials were a little antsy about the honor getting any attention at all, since it came around the same time Baltimore's Terrell Suggs was investigated for comments which sounded like the Ravens might have had a system of bounties for hard hits. They tried downplaying it at every turn, though it's been mentioned by a few network sideline reporters since it was chronicled in The Herald earlier this year.

• THAT SOUNDS MUCH BETTER: Quarterback Jake Delhomme no longer has a streak of sub-100-yard passing days.

After a scoring change from the Elias Sports Bureau, Delhomme now has 102 passing yards from the Detroit game last week, instead of 98. While the difference is slight, it begat a funny line, since the Panthers had two 100-yard rushers against the Lions but no 100-yard passers.

The mistake came after the stats left the Panthers' hands Sunday, when the league tabulated numbers from all games. Then Elias noticed the mix-up, and got Delhomme back to triple digits. It also gave wide receiver Steve Smith an extra 4 yards (a 12-yard reception in the second quarter was entered as an 8-yard catch, before Elias caught it). That moved Smith to 63 receiving yards instead of 59.

Delhomme had no idea when asked about it Thursday, and laughed and said it wasn't the kind of thing he was celebrating, since he puts no importance on stats.

"That's great, thanks, I could give a (flip)," he said with a grin. "We won, so I don't care. That's the truth, so bleep it out and print it."

• AN INCUMBENT WINS: In a vote held Tuesday, Panthers long snapper Jason Kyle held onto his post as the team's player representative to the NFLPA. Veteran wideout Muhsin Muhammad was elected alternate.

The election carries more importance than other years, since there's a pending renegotiation of the collective bargaining agreement with the league -- under the specter of an uncapped year in 2010 if a new deal isn't reached. Kyle's job entails keeping players in Charlotte abreast of labor news, a faster-developing role than ever before.

Perhaps most importantly, he'll cast one of the 32 votes for the NFLPA's new chief, a position still vacant after the death of former union boss Gene Upshaw earlier this year.

• EXTRA POINTS: There was an unusual sight at practice Thursday -- an entire roster.

All 53 players were at full participation for the work, something that's rare this time of year. In fact, the clean slate may be the first since training camp.

Center Ryan Kalil (ankle) had been limited Wednesday, and linebacker Thomas Davis (ankle) and tackle Jeremy Bridges (heart) were held out, but they worked fully, along with defensive tackle Darwin Walker (neck). ...

For the Falcons, left tackle Sam Baker (back) was still out, along with receivers Roddy White and Laurent Robinson and defensive tackle Kindal Moorehead, the former Panthers backup.

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