It's sad to see Peyton Manning leave Indianapolis after playing 14 seasons there. It's also interesting to envision him with a new team. I have no idea where he goes. But after playing every home game in his career beneath a roof, will he really want to leave the environment with which he's most familiar and play outside?
I think you have to live in an NFL city to get a feel for what an athlete means to his town.
I'm not sure how big a deal it was to the rest of the world when Mike Minter and Mike Rucker retired. But it was huge here. They made the Panthers better and they also made Charlotte better through their class and grace and work with charity.
Minter, whom Carolina drafted in the second round in 1997, and Rucker, whom Carolina took in the second round in '99, were Panthers for life. So was Dan Morgan, an outstanding middle linebacker who unfortunately collected injuries. He did go to the Saints at the end of his career, but never played for them.
There are 10 Panthers still active whom the Panthers drafted and who have stayed at least five seasons.
They are: Steve Smith, who was drafted in the third round in 2001; Jordan Gross, first round, '03; Chris Gamble, first round, '04; Trevelle Wharton, third round, '04; Thomas Davis, first round, '05; DeAngelo Williams, first round, '06; James Anderson, third round, '06; Jon Beason, first round, '07; Ryan Kalil, second round, '07; and Charles Johnson, third round, '07.
We know them, and it would be bizarre to see play them with anybody but Carolina.
It would be even more bizarre if they're all on the roster next season.