Collecting Memories

Ron Rivera 2

Where were you in 1990 and 1991? I'm sure many of you were in school at varying levels, while others were in the midst of raising children or maybe even welcoming grandchildren. Perhaps some of you, like the Panthers' franchise, weren't even born yet. If you happened to be one of those who were already roaming the earth at that particular point in time, then you may have been an avid NFL fan like me, and that required an allegiance to a team outside of the Carolinas.

The team that tickled my fancy as a child happened to be the Chicago Bears, and this affinity for the "monsters of the midway" seemed to naturally coincide with my affection for collecting football cards. I couldn't wait to open a new package of cards in much the same way that I looked forward to football Sundays. For whatever reason, the early nineties not only represented the height of my card collecting days, but the end of them. After the jump, you will see a picture of some of the cards that I collected during this time period. All of them have some connection to the Panthers except the very first one. If this stirs up some special Panthers memories of your own or you had/have some of the same players in your own card collection, be sure to share them in the comment section that follows.

Rest In Peace

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Although this one year Panther wonder played his last NFL season with us in 2007, he actually began his career with our division rival after being drafted #1 overall in 1987.

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QB Rodney Peete spent a dubious three years with the Panthers from 2002-2004. However, to his credit, he did lead us to a respectable 7-9 record in 2002, a year after our disastrous 1-15 season.

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Although Robinson only played one season with the Panthers(2000), he chose to settle down with his family in Charlotte after that final season, and is currently entering his tenth year as the color analyst for all Panthers' radio broadcasts.

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WR Mark Carrier was chosen by the Panthers with 16th pick in the 1995 expansion draft after having successful seasons with the Bucs and Browns. He went on to lead the Panthers in receiving yards during their first ever trip to the NFC Championship game against the Packers in 1996.

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LB Sam Mills, an original Panther, was the only player to start every game for the Panthers in their first three seasons. After Mills retired in 1997, he was hired on as a coaching assistant and linebackers coach, and held the latter position until 2004. Perhaps he would still be coaching for the Panthers today if only he hadn't been stricken with cancer. Although Mills eventually succumbed to that awful disease in 2005, his "Keep Pounding" slogan has been living on ever since, and will only continue to do so. I take pride in the fact that every single player who dons a Panthers' uniform during this upcoming 2012 season will be afforded the privilege of reading that poignant message each and every time they put on their jersey. In a sense, our players will be carrying with them a piece of who Sam Mills was wherever they go on that field, and we can too in our everyday lives. The next time you begin to experience difficult times, you can honor his legacy in your own life when you decide to Keep Pounding, and you will be better for it. In fact, we all will. Thank you Sam.

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Brett Maxie was the starting strong safety on the Panthers 1996 team that made it to the NFC Championship game.

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LB Kevin Greene played three memorable seasons late in his career in Carolina. As another member of that 1996 playoff team, Greene set an NFL record that season by rolling off five consecutive multi-sack games. Additionally, he was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Year by the Washington D.C. Touchdown Club and was also named a consensus All-Pro that season. After leaving to play for the 49ers in 1997, he did come back to play two more stellar years with the Panthers(15 and 12 sacks respectively). I'm surprised he hasn't made it into the HOF as of yet.

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Although our former wide receivers coach didn't fare so well when he was named the head coach of the Bucs after Ray Perkins was fired in 1990, his knowledge of the position and teaching skills were very instrumental to the development of Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith. Thank you coach.

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At the age of 38, Hall of Fame DE Reggie White made a cameo appearance when he came out of retirement for the 2000 season to play his first and only season with the Panthers. Unfortunately, he died suddenly after suffering a cardiac arrhythmia the day after Christmas in 2004. His memory lives on.

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Well before our head coach was in the midst of leading the Panthers to greatness, he was busy using the proper tackling technique as a member of the Chicago Bears back in the day.

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To this day, I believe Ricky Proehl was one of the most underrated receivers of all time. Think about this: Proehl caught the tying touchdown in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter on two different occasions for two different teams(Rams and Panthers) in two different Super Bowls. There's no doubt that Proehl was as clutch as they come, and he continues to share his knowledge of the position today as a offensive consultant for the receivers as a proud member of the Panthers coaching staff.

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Yes, I am the owner of a 1990 Ricky Proehl rookie card, and proud of it.

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Before Kasay was using his famous leg motion for the Panthers, he was kicking in the Pacific Northwest for the Seattle Seahawks.

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After the Panthers traded a fifth round pick to acquire WR Rocket Ismail, his first two seasons with the Panthers in 1996 and 1997 were somewhat disappointing. However, he did manage to go over 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his NFL career in his third and final season with the Panthers.

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