Muhsin Muhammad and Julius Peppers, two of the most successful Carolina Panthers in franchise history, were officially inducted into the team’s Hall of Honor at halftime Sunday.
Flanked by their families and other former Panthers greats, the two men each gave brief speeches in the halftime break between the Panthers-Houston Texans game.
Muhammad, a former wide receiver, used his in part to lead a “Keep Pounding” chant, while Peppers, a defensive end, also thanked the fans.
Said Muhammad in a later interview about the experience: “It makes me emotional. It’s just surreal. I can’t really believe that it’s happening, but I’m just trying to embrace it.”
Peppers said later that among the most meaningful parts of Sunday was “the fan reaction.”
“I wasn’t really expecting anything,” Peppers said. “But it felt good. It felt welcoming. It’s a good feeling, that support.”
Peppers, who now lives in Miami with his family, is eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the first time in this voting cycle and has a legitimate shot of becoming a first-ball Hall of Famer in early 2024.
“It’s important,” Peppers said. “I’m not going to downplay it. Whether it’s the first time or the 10th time, it’s going to be a special moment. I don’t know what the chances are. I think the resume is good enough. We’ll just see how the people vote.”
Peppers is among the most-decorated Panthers of all time. Carolina selected him No. 2 overall in 2002, and he would go on to make the NFL All-Decade team in both the 2000s and the 2010s. Peppers finished in the top 10 in the NFL in sacks six times and ranks fourth in NFL history with 159.5 total sacks. Peppers also blocked nine field goals as a Panther, had 11 career interceptions and is the only player in NFL history with 150 or more sacks and 10 or more interceptions.
Muhammad, a second-round draft pick for Carolina in 1996, is second all-time in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns for the Panthers, trailing only Steve Smith in all of those categories. He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and, in 2004, led the NFL with 1,405 receiving yards and 16 TDs for Carolina. Muhammad also set a Super Bowl record for the longest catch with an 85-yard TD pass from Jake Delhomme in the 38th Super Bowl against New England. He lives in Charlotte with his family.
Both Peppers and Muhammad were also key to Carolina’s 2003 postseason run to the team’s first Super Bowl.
“Both became All-Pros here,” Panthers owner David Tepper said in a press release announcing the honor in July. “Both came back to Carolina to finish their careers. This is another homecoming, a permanent one.”
With the addition of the players their teammates called “Moose” and “Pep,” the Panthers now have nine Hall of Honor members. There are only that many owing in part to the strange 15-year gap between the inductees in 2004 (the team’s PSL owners, as a group) and the four-man class of 2019 (Jake Delhomme, Jordan Gross, Steve Smith Sr. and Wesley Walls).
The first two inductees were former Panthers team president Mike McCormack (1997) and former linebacker Sam Mills (1998). Signs displaying the names “Muhsin Muhammad” and “Julius Peppers” in the upper deck were unveiled at the end of the halftime ceremony.
Ring presented to Mills family
▪ Peppers and Muhammad weren’t the only former Carolina legends honored Sunday. The late Mills, a Hall of Famer who was one of the team’s early stars and the originator of the “Keep Pounding” motto, was also remembered. Mills’ wife, Melanie, was presented with his Hall of Fame ring.