We’re 59 days away from the Carolina Panthers 2021 season opener, so that means today’s countdown piece is devoted to former Panthers All-Pro linebacker, Luke Kuechly.
There’s not much I can say about this Panthers great that you don’t know already, but I’ll try my best to do him justice. And if you scroll down to the bottom, you’ll see my question for you to answer in the comments.
A star is born
It felt like everyone around the NFL immediately noticed when Kuechly first came into the league. Who is this kid from Boston College?
Looking back on that 2012 season, the Panthers had an embarrassment of riches on defense. Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Julius Peppers, Josh Norman, Greg Hardy, Mario Addison, Captain Munnerlyn, Jon Beason. It was crazy.
Kuechly was coming off a ridiculous 191-tackle senior season in college, and made an immediate impact for Carolina.
He received the NFC Defensive Rookie of the Month award in December, recording a league-high 59 tackles over the final five games of the season. He led the league with 164 tackles during the regular season and recorded eight pass deflections, a sack, a pair of interceptions, and three fumble recoveries. And he was awarded the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and received the Defensive Rookie of the Year award from Pro Football Weekly.
It only got better, as Kuechly landed the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2013 and helped lead the team to a Super Bowl appearance in 2015.
All told, the linebacker made 1,092 tackles over 118 games in the NFL, along with 12.5 sacks, 18 picks, seven forced fumbles and one touchdown. He’s the first player in NFL history to reach 1,000 tackles in his first eight seasons and the fastest to reach the mark in only 107 games.
Kuechly retired prior to the 2020 season, but it’s safe to say he probably had several more good years in him.
And while he no longer works for the Panthers — Kuechly left his job as a scout in 2021 — he’ll forever be a legend for this franchise.
Give us your say
Tell us in the comment section, Panthers fans. When did you “know” that Kuechly was going to be a monster?
Or, what is your single greatest memory from Kuechly’s career? Don’t be shy.