Jeremy Shockey – Carolina Panthers TE (2011)
The Carolina Panthers welcomed a lot of new additions in 2011. New head coach Ron Rivera, first-overall pick Cam Newton, and eventual Pro-Bowl tight end Greg Olsen come to mind. But arguably, one of the most underrated additions was Jeremy Shockey.
By the time Shockey arrived in Charlotte in 2011, he had already made a name for himself in the NFL. Before the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, and George Kittle, the All-Pro held the role of playful and flamboyant, but very productive tight-end.
Shockey made four Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants and the New Orleans Saints.
The two tight-end combinations of Shockey and Olsen were a key part of the Panther offense under offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. The pair combined for 82 catches, 995 yards, and nine touchdowns, helping Newton become the first rookie to throw for 4,000 yards, which broke Peyton Manning’s record.
In his lone season with the Panthers (and last season in the NFL), Shockey tallied 37 catches, 455 receiving yards, and four touchdowns.
Reggie White – Carolina Panthers DL (2000)
Reggie White is still considered one of the greatest defensive players in league history. “The Minister of Defense” put together a Hall of Fame career from 1985-1998 with the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers. In 1999, the defensive lineman retired with one Super Bowl ring, two Defensive Player of the Year awards, eight All-Pros, and 13 Pro Bowls to his name.
In 2000, the 38-year old defensive lineman from Tennessee came out of retirement and signed a five-year, $20 million incentive laced deal to play for the Carolina Panthers. White was planning to live in the Charlotte area permanently and wanted to play close to home.
Panthers head coach George Seifert was looking to improve the team’s 26th ranked defense and guide the young team back to the playoffs for the second time in the franchise history.
Although White started all 16 games in the regular season, the signing did not make the impact both sides had hoped. Only two seasons removed from winning Defensive Player of the Year, the Hall of Famer recorded 16 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks, and one forced fumble in Carolina.
And for the first time since 1985, White failed to make the Pro Bowl roster as the Panthers missed the playoffs for a third straight season.
White retired for good after that campaign. But the legendary figure tragically passed away at his home in Huntersville, North Carolina on December 26, 2004. He was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.