Julius Peppers announces his retirement

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Julius Peppers is leaving the NFL the way he came into it — quietly.

But the legacy he leaves will speak volumes, until his eventual induction into the Hall of Fame.

The former Panthers defensive end announced his retirement this morning in The Players Tribune, a month after finishing his 17th season.

“Anybody who knows me knows I’m not big on words and I don’t like to put myself out there, so I’m just gonna get right to it,” he wrote. “Seventeen years is a long time to be playing this game. It’s two careers for a lot of people. I’m thankful that I have been able to play so long and still be healthy. I’m not all banged up and beaten down. I still feel good.

“But as much as I would love to play forever, I know that I can’t. It’s gotta end at some point. That point is now. Today, I’m retiring.”

Peppers went on to thank some friends, and mention his lifelong dream of being a basketball player. He was one at the University of North Carolina, but his path was clearly on the football field.

The No. 2 overall pick in 2002, he finished with 159.5 sacks, fourth on the all-time list behind just Bruce Smith, Reggie White, and Kevin Greene. He had stints with the Bears and Packers before returning to his home-state team to wrap up his career, which may not have ended as he wished. But throughout it all, he was one of the dominant pass-rushers of a generation, the kind of athlete who could change games at a moment’s notice.

He became even more that just an athlete, and during his final season he organized efforts for hurricane relief in his home state, giving back to the place that watched him become a legend.

77 responses to “Julius Peppers announces his retirement

  1. “It’s two careers for a lot of people”

    Hahahaha. The NFL. Where reality doesn’t exist.*

    *For those without a sense of humor, I do understand he is referring to NFL players.

  2. Much respect to Julius. As a UNC Grad and Panthers fan, he was always my favorite player. Glad he was able to come back and have such a positive impact on and off the field. Canton will call his name really soon!

  3. Good for him. I loved watching him in Charlotte but there is a time to go enjoy everything you have earned. Why wait until you hurt yourself for life. Hopefully he will retire as a Panther where he started and finished.

  4. We will miss seeing #90 blow up offenses as he has for so many years. He’s made the Carolinas proud through his play and his giving back to the community. We were fortunate to see him play as we are now in being able to see Luke at his prime. Enjoy it, fans – careers can be short.

  5. J.P. is a gentleman, true competitor, and monster all at the same time. Panthers were lucky to get him at the beginning and then get him back at the end of his career.

  6. revren10 says:
    February 1, 2019 at 8:36 am
    Straight beast early on in his career. Would have loved to see him play for the pats and the goat.


    I think the key word there is “early”.

    I can’t imagine him wanting to play a pure DE/OLB spot, though. He had numerous chances to sign and play for BB, but something tells me he had no interest in setting an edge.

  7. Probably the most naturally gifted athlete at his position ever.

    And if he’d had any kind of motor, he would own the sack record by FAR. Always looked like he set the cruise control to a comfortable effort.

  8. That is kind of sad. It is so cool he finished his career where it began though! I always hate to see the long time greats retire, though it was much deserved! Next stop: Canton!

  9. Respect. 17 years in the NFL (where the average is 3.3) is a monstrous achievement that any football fan can appreciate. And to be dominant for the vast majority of those years: truly remarkable.

    Well done, Julius. On behalf of football fans everywhere: Thank you.

  10. I remember his time with the Packers fondly. Wish we would’ve held into him a little longer!

  11. Congrats on a great career and good luck in retirement BUT….

    5 minutes to go in the NFC Championship Game and Morgan Burnett intercepts a pass with a open path to the endzone and you signal him to get down…

    ..Plus your time in Chicago. Not your best moments.

  12. I remember when the Texans had their very first draft as an expansion team. The #1 overall pick was between Peppers and David Carr. I thought Peppers was who they should’ve drafted because you build the trenches first. They went the other way and we all know how that worked out. What’s crazy is his career is the same age as the Texans franchise.

  13. revren10 says:
    I can’t imagine him wanting to play a pure DE/OLB spot, though. He had numerous chances to sign and play for BB, but something tells me he had no interest in setting an edge.
    Or no interest in cheating.

  14. Peppers was dominant for a long time. And even in the twilight of his career he was still a respectable player. Hats off to bro. Enjoy your rest of your life. He made a ton of money and earned every penny. He could’ve came back for one more year, coasted and got paid but he hung em up. Tip of the cap to you sir.

    By the way he was a helluva basketball player. I think he was an NBA talent as well. Maybe not a superstar but a solid NBA player in the post. Great athlete.

  15. Great person, player and career! Definitely you’re a HOFer. Now, sit back, relax and smoke a phat one! No need to worry about drug testing

  16. I respect the heck out of this guy. Great player and no off the field stuff. NFL needs more like him and is losing a good one.

  17. Julius, you were a beast. You did well. Much respect. Enjoy the fruits of your labors.

  18. Class act who played the game the way it’s supposed to be played. Always liked watching him and always a bit envious of the teams he played for.

  19. This story followed the post on the latest Antonio Brown antics and served as nice reminder that there are quality guys in the NFL. Unlike the aforementioned Brown, Julius never called attention to himself, always played hard, put his team first, and continuously gave back to his community. Julius is a first ballot hall of famer in football sure but, more importantly, he is a hall of famer in the game of life. We salute you Mr. Peppers.

  20. My Lions had to face him many times while he was on the Bears and Packers, and even though he often terrorized Stafford, I still appreciated what a great player he was. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement, Mr. Peppers!

  21. Rate This
    ariani1985 says:
    February 1, 2019 at 11:03 am
    The hatred from sick packers fans are nuts!

    There are great programs out there for English as a second language. You should try one sometime.

  22. As I recall he was a pretty fair basketball player at UNC as well. What an athlete!!
    HOF bound.

  23. One of many great Julius Peppers moments in Green Bay:

    Peppers first Lambeau Leap in week 5, 2014 vs. minnie.

    Picked off a pass and rumbled 49 yards for a touchdown👏

    Pick six in route to a 42-10 beatdown of little minnie.


  24. 4th all time in sacks… He improved over the course of his career as a run defender as well. He gets my vote for the HOF.

  25. Amazingly durable. Only missed a handful of games in all those years, 32 turnovers, scored a number of TDs to go along with all the sacks. Performed at a high level for a long time.

  26. Congratulations big fella. 17 years and you get to retire (mostly) healthy. Absolute beast in his prime.

  27. Wow. I remember SO MANY YEARS ago watching this kid come out of UNC and wishing my Raiders could trade up for him, knowing he was going to be an unstoppable monster. Knowing he was one of those “sure thing” can’t-miss types.

    Since Peppers was drafted I have been divorced and remarried. Lived in 7 different homes. 4 different jobs.

    My son hadn’t even been conceived yet at the time. My daughter was 2 then, she’s graduating from HS this year.

    Everyone was still in shock over 9/11.

    The whole world was a DRAMATICALLY different place.

    Unbelievable career for a DE, 160 sacks and 52 forced fumbles over 240 starts.

    9 pro bowls, 3 all-pros.

    And talk about durability! Between 2003 and 2015 – THIRTEEN SEASONS – Peppers started ALL but 4 games. That’s 204 starts out of 208 opportunities over THIRTEEN YEARS! At a position that most kids are lucky to get 4 years out of in total.

    The guy was just high-quality throughout his entire career.

    Well played, sir. Well-played.

  28. A great player and a great teammate and leader. Appreciated his time with the Packers, and always respected the heck out of him as an opponent. Thank you, Julius.

  29. I learned about Peppers when my favorite D End at the time was asked who playing in the NFL at that he admired most. Without even pausing to think he said “Julias Peppers”.

    That D end was no other than Jared Allen and I have say, Peppers is/was an impressive player to watch.

  30. staff2cj says:
    February 1, 2019 at 10:24 am
    Great person, player and career! Definitely you’re a HOFer. Now, sit back, relax and smoke a phat one! No need to worry about drug testing

    He’s in luck, Joe Montana is dealing pot these days.

  31. I tip my hat off to you julius.As a bucs fan i got to watch you dominate a offense and i was always wishing you would sign with us. You are beast. I hope you have a great retirement.

  32. Not a fan of Panthers organization especially after the whole Richardson fiasco but give credit where credit is due. They have had a number of really class guys who have been outstanding on and more importantly off the field in recent years. Peppers, T. Davis, Olsen and yes even Cam does a lot of charity work.

  33. From one Tarheel to another, “Congratulations to you on a great Hall of Fame career, while more importantly being a great person and best of luck with all your future endeavors.” I look forward to seeing you around Charlotte as you continue to do good works.

  34. Wow, Julius — sending the very best wishes to you and your family. Hope you can find a way to stick around the game. You’ve got as lot to contribute as a coach and mentor. There’s some college or high school near where you live that could use you.

  35. Why does he get a free pass for using steroids? Was caught early in his career, accused later in his career. Probably doped the whole time.

  36. Great player and class act. Good luck to Peppers and we’ll see him in 5 years at his Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony.

  37. With over 165 million USD in earnings (+Endorsements, -Tax) I’d say he has had many many careers. The 55k average salary over a lifetime of work is only 2.65million.

  38. What a great player, and his quiet leadership style contrasts the typical NFL player. He’ll rightfully be remembered as a Panther, but I’ll never forget how he also played on the 2 successful NFC North franchises.

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