The Carolina Panthers joined the NFL in 1995 as an expansion team, becoming the 29th team in the NFL. They had almost immediate success, starting out with a 7-9 record, which is the best record in an expansions team’s first season, then going 12-4 in their second season as a franchise, winning the division and making the playoffs, only to lose to eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.
Unfortunately, after that, they did not have another winning season until 2003, in a season that they made the Super Bowl, but lost to the New England Patriots 32-29. Since then they have been perennial playoff contenders, reaching the Super Bowl one more time, after the 2015 season, but lost to the Denver Broncos 24-10.
With a new coach joining the team after another disappointing 2019 season, there are many questions ahead for the team. Here are the top NFL bobbleheads from the Carolina Panthers.
Cam Newton – Quarterback 2011 – present
Drafted number 1 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, Cam Newton started his career off with a bang, setting many rookie passing records. In his very first game, Newton threw for 422 yards, which surpassed Peyton Manning’s record for most passing yards on opening day.
Newton followed that up with another amazing performance, throwing for 432 yards in a loss to the Packers. That 854 yards in his first two games is the most ever for a rookie and was the most by any quarterback until Tom Brady threw for 940 yards the same season.
He finished the season with 4,051 yards, which was the first time a rookie quarterback had thrown for over 4,000 yards, plus added 706 rushing yards making him a true dual-threat.
During the 2015 season, Newton was named the NFL MVP as he led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50. Following seasons Newton has been bothered by injuries, but he is looking to come back healthy in 2020.
Christian McCaffrey – Running Back 2017 – present
McCaffrey, son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, was selected by the Panthers with the 8th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft and was instantly effective in their offense.
A dual-threat back able to catch passes out of the backfield as well as break runs from anywhere on the field. McCaffrey had 435 rushing yards his rookie year, but also 80 catches for another 651 yards.
He was even more successful in his second year, reaching 1,000 yards while adding another 867 yards on 107 receptions. This placed McCaffrey as the all-time single-season yardage leader. Also, in a game against the New Orleans Saints in week 15, McCaffrey joined Walter Payton and Gale Sayers as the only players in NFL history with 50 rushing yards, 50 receiving yards, and 50 passing yards in a single game.
McCaffrey followed this up with over 1,000 yards in both rushing and receiving yards, breaking his own record. In addition to this, McCaffrey has the single-season record for most receptions, as well as the most receptions in a game with 15.
In addition to these, he has many franchise records too, and in only his third season I am sure that he will build upon that.
Luke Kuechly – Linebacker 2012 – 2019
The Panthers selected Kuechly as the 9th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft and immediately made an impact. He became the youngest person ever to receive the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2013, after winning the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award the year before after leading the league in tackles.
Kuechly was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his last 7 years before he retired in 2019. He was also added to the first-team All-Pro 5 of those years, and second-team the other two.
Keyshawn Johnson – Wide Receiver 1996 – 2006
Keyshawn Johnson finished his 10-year career with the Carolina Panthers, playing opposite of Steve Smith. After catching a touchdown pass on Monday Night Football, Johnson became the first player to score a touchdown pass for 4 different teams on Monday Night.
Josh Norman – Cornerback 2012 – present
Drafted by the Panthers in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL draft, Norman became one of the best defenders in the league and was named starting cornerback immediately by Head Coach Ron Rivera.
Norman struggled towards the end of his rookie season and became the third cornerback on the depth chart, where he stayed for the next few years, before gaining his starting job back in the 2014 season. He then continued his success before leaving the Panthers as a free agent after the 2015 season.
With only 25 years of being a franchise, the Carolina Panthers have had their share of successes. With a new coach joining the team, we will see if they are able to continue those successes. What other players would you like to see as a bobblehead? Please let me know in the comments below!