Carolina Panthers

Julius Peppers returns to Carolina Panthers – but not on the field

Julius Peppers: A look at an NFL legend

After 17 years in the NFL, Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers announced his retirement on Friday, Feb. 1, 2018. Here's a look at his career as a Panther.
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After 17 years in the NFL, Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers announced his retirement on Friday, Feb. 1, 2018. Here's a look at his career as a Panther.

Julius Peppers is back with the Carolina Panthers.

Just not how you might expect.

The future Hall of Fame defensive end was hired by the team in a front-office role, with the title of “special assistant, business operations” according to Pro Football Talk.

The team later confirmed the hire to the Observer.

“Julius is a special person, and he will help us in a variety of ways,” said Steven Drummond, the Panthers’ vice president of external affairs. “His role is part special projects on the business side and part ambassadorship. We are giving him an opportunity to work in several parts of our business while also helping us engage and grow our business with fans and partners. He will be a tremendous asset.”

Peppers, 38, eased into his new role with a visit to West Charlotte High School alongside owner David Tepper on Wednesday, where they met with members of the school’s boys basketball team.

Tepper paid for the buses and hotel rooms for the team before the state championship game in Raleigh earlier this year, and West Charlotte held a small ceremony to thank him and present him with a jersey. Peppers joined Tepper onstage and was introduced to the audience before posing for pictures.

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This week, the Panthers announced the first expansion class of their Hall of Honor. The four-member class includesformer quarterback Jake Delhomme, receiver Steve Smith Sr., tight end Wesley Walls and tackle Jordan Gross.

Many fans wondered why Peppers, who ranks third all-time in the NFL in sacks, was not included in the class.

“For the first class, the only criteria was you couldn’t be an active player in 2018, when we started having earnest discussions,” said David Monroe, the Panthers’ historical and alumni affairs manager, in an interview with The Observer earlier this week.

Outside of Wednesday’s event, Tepper all but confirmed that Peppers will be inducted in two years, which he said is an appropriate length of time to ensure that a player doesn’t return to the field.

“Two years we’ll wait for people,” said Tepper. “You have to do that. You don’t know if people come back or not ... So after two years, they’re not coming back.”

Jourdan has covered the Carolina Panthers as a beat writer since 2016, and froze during Pennsylvania winters as an award-winning Penn State football beat writer before that. A 2014 graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, she’s on a never-ending quest for trick plays and the stories that give football fans goosebumps.
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