Nobody knows when Julius Peppers is going to start slowing down, but he certainly hasn’t yet.
Peppers, the Carolina Panthers pass rusher who is 37 years old, won NFC defensive player of the week. In an upset win over the New England Patriots, Peppers had two sacks, three quarterback hurries and four total tackles. He leads the Panthers with 4.5 sacks. That ranks fifth in the NFL. Again: He’s 37 years old.
When Peppers signed with the Panthers, it seemed like a nice nostalgic retirement lap. Peppers started his career with the Panthers all the way back in 2002, when he was the second pick of the draft, and he also grew up in North Carolina and went to the University of North Carolina. This is no retirement lap. Peppers is a reason the Panthers are 3-1.
Peppers is inching up the list of greatest “old” players in NFL history (non-quarterback division). Charles Woodson might be the king of that category, and he’s the oldest player to ever win a player of the week award, at age 38. Reggie White, Bruce Smith and Darrell Green also won weekly awards at 37, David Newton of ESPN said. That’s a pretty good group to start the list of the greatest players in NFL history past age 35. Throw in Jim Marshall, Jackie Slater, Tony Gonzalez and a few others. But don’t forget Peppers.
It’s amazing, but Peppers has recorded fewer than seven sacks in a season just once, in 2007. He’s in his 16th season. It seems like he’ll hit seven sacks again this year, too. There’s little question he’s on his way to being an easy Pro Football Hall of Fame choice.
Peppers appeared this offseason to be going home for a final season before calling it a career. Based on the first four weeks, Peppers might be around for a while longer than we figured.
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