HOF inductee, former Panther Julius Peppers says consistency leads to greatness

CHARLOTTE — Former Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers never made it a goal to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Peppers had something to prove after the Panthers selected him second overall in the 2002 NFL draft.

“I can say there was a lot of doubt and skepticism,” he told Channel 9′s DaShawn Brown. “There were questions about if I was worthy of being taken that high, so my motivation and my main thought at that time was just to come in and prove that I belong.”

For 17 seasons, Peppers proved he belongs. He’s still the only player in NFL history with more than 100 sacks and 10 interceptions. And now, within the span of just months, Peppers was inducted into the Panthers Hall of Honor, soon will join the College Football Hall of Fame, and, in August, he’ll head to Canton to be enshrined among the all-time greats in pro football.

“Making the Hall of Fame was never a goal of mine. That’s just something that you don’t do,” Peppers said. “You put your head down and you do the work throughout the season and throughout the years.”

“Anybody can have a good season. Anybody can have one to two good seasons, but the good ones, the great ones do it consistently,” he added.

Consistency and years of dominance propelled the team he joined back in 2002 to the NFL’s biggest stage in his second season. It’s a long and accomplished road from someone who admittedly started with something to prove.

Peppers said that moment came early against the Ravens in his first NFL game.

“Ray Lewis, Deion Sanders was there at the time. Ed Reed was a rookie,” he recalled. “The last play of that game we had a blitz call. I came through, got the sack -- actually it wasn’t a sack, it was a pass deflection. And Dan [Morgan] ended up catching it for an interception. That was to close out the game.

“That in itself -- that first game, to be able to make a big play at the end of the game -- gave me a big boost of confidence to let me know I could do it.”

Julius Peppers will become the second Panthers legend in three years to be inducted in the Hall. He’ll follow the late Sam Mills, who was inducted in 2022.

(WATCH BELOW: Carolina Panthers to induct Muhammad, Peppers into Hall of Honor)