The annual award honors one player from each NFL team that shows courage on and off the field.
Peppers returned to the field this fall for his 17th career season after off-season shoulder surgery. A nine-time Pro Bowler, Peppers has played in 172 consecutive games, the second-longest active streak in the NFL among position players. Peppers is the oldest active defensive player in the NFL and his 262 career games played rank sixth among all defenders in NFL history.
Peppers currently ranks fourth in NFL history with 158.5 career sacks. He has the most sacks of any active NFL player, and is the only player in history with at least 150 sacks and 10 interceptions. He has recorded 51 career forced fumbles, one behind Robert Mathis for the most forced fumbles since the statistic became official in 2000. Peppers has six career defensive touchdowns, tied for third-most among all NFL defensive linemen and linebackers.
Peppers is in his 10th season with the Panthers, ranking second among all defensive players with 150 games played in a Panthers uniform. He holds franchise records for sacks, forced fumbles, blocked field goals and is second in fumble recoveries, third in defensive touchdowns while holding the record for the longest interception return in a game.
Well-known for his contributions on the field, Peppers has also made numerous contributions off the field. A native of Bailey, N.C., Peppers has worked this season to raise money for hurricane relief and serve in impacted areas after Hurricane Florence hit the east coast of North and South Carolina. He donated $100,000 to start the Julius Peppers Hurricane Relief Fund through the Foundation for the Carolinas, and encouraged teammates and fans to pledge their support. He also visited Robeson County, N.C., and Marlboro County, S.C., to assist with recovery efforts. In addition, Peppers was active in emphasizing the importance of voting, joining teammate Chris Manhertz at a local Charlotte polling location before this year’s mid-term elections to encourage citizens in the area to cast their ballot.
Peppers also contributes to a scholarship fund at his alma mater the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The Light on the Hill Society Scholarship. This initiative serves as a tribute to the university’s early African-American graduates of the 1950s and 1960s who integrated the school by providing scholarships to current first-year African-American students. These scholars demonstrate academic excellence, outstanding leadership abilities, community service dedication and have great potential to become involved and informed alumni. Peppers is responsible for the largest donation made to the fund.
Peppers was recently named the Panthers nominee for the NFL’s Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, which recognizes players around the league who exemplify outstanding sportsmanship on the field.