Julius Peppers: "It's not goodbye, It's see ya later"

2015 playoff captains: LB Clay Matthews LB Julius Peppers S Chris Banjo K Mason Crosby QB Aaron Rodgers FB John Kuhn

2015 playoff captains: LB Clay Matthews LB Julius Peppers S Chris Banjo K Mason Crosby QB Aaron Rodgers FB John Kuhn

The Panthers' 31-24 win ended any hope that the Packers could make the playoffs, and Rodgers returned to injured reserve to finish the season. Before you hunker in to watch a seemingly endless supply of basketball (yay!), here's what's going on around the ACC - starting with the legendary Julius Peppers.

Former Bears star defensive end Julius Peppers on Friday announced his retirement from the National Football League after 17 seasons.

Peppers wrote about his time in Green Bay in an excellent article for The Players' Tribune.

It's been a great 17 years. I'm proud that I got to play for each of you.

Peppers signed a three-year, $26 million contract with the Packers in 2014.

He is the Panthers' nominee for the 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, which will be awarded Saturday on the eve of Super Bowl LIII. He is a leader in the locker room and in the community. He was respected both for his productivity and durability. He missed four games in 2002, his rookie season, then played in 254 out of a possible 256 games over the rest of his career. He was a part of the 1999-00 team that went to the Final Four; as a sophomore, he had an expanded role for the 2000-01 team, which won 26 games: 7.1 points (64.3 FG%).

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"I love my time with Julius".

In Pepper's tear-jerking video posted on Twitter, he soulfully considers all the reasons he is thankful and what might come next.

"He's never done anything in his life to disappoint me, I can tell you that", Davis said.

"Of course, that puzzled me but I never tried to force anything on anybody", he recalled how he saw Peppers at track practice one day "triple-jumping 37 foot".

Peppers also thanked former Bears coaches Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli and Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher.

Peppers, a 1998 Southern Nash High graduate, left high school as one of the greatest athletes ever in The Wilson Times readership area and perhaps even in North Carolina.

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