Ted Ginn Jr. has played professionally for teams in Florida, California, Arizona and North Carolina.
North Carolina has been good to him.
Ginn, formerly known as a draft bust during his time with the Miami Dolphins, has flourished in his two stints with the Carolina Panthers, and that continued Sunday night in the 27-16 win against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Ginn hauled in five catches for 59 yards to lead the team and threw in a run of 43 yards as he continues his return to relevance in Charlotte.
There’s a connection between Ginn and quarterback Cam Newton that can be seen on the field and felt off it. The two have lockers near one another and regularly joke around during the locker room portion open to the media.
And on the field it’s clear. Outside of tight end Greg Olsen, Newton doesn’t have a reliable receiver. Ginn has had his issues with drops, but he’s also been Newton’s most targeted pass-catcher after Olsen.
“I just believe that Carolina believes in me and I believe in Carolina,” Ginn said. “With Cam at the wheel and the things that he likes to do, I just fit in great with him. I just go out and play and just try to be a team player all around.”
Entering Sunday night’s game, Ginn had 13 catches for 224 yards and three touchdowns. That already eclipsed four of his eight seasons as a professional.
Ginn’s biggest play Sunday night came on a reverse on a flip from Newton. Ginn came from the right side of the field and went left, turning the corner on the defense and accelerating upfield as if he were back at Ohio State.
The play went for 43 yards and got Carolina inside the 10-yard line. Two plays and two Philadelphia penalties later, the Panthers were in the end zone.
Don’t tell Ginn it was Vintage Ginn.
“I don’t know what vintage is. I’m still Ted Ginn. It’s fast,” he said. “It was good to get a reverse. I haven’t had a reverse in two or three years. It was good to get a play and show my team that I can make a play.”
It came on a night where one of Newton’s passes to Ginn ended up being intercepted on a play that had to be reviewed. Cornerback Nolan Carroll stripped Ginn of the ball just as Ginn was going to the ground, and wrestled it away.
“I felt like I was down but you’ve got to control the ball all the way to the ground,” Ginn said. “That’s the first thing of being a receiver. It’s on me. I take it on the head. I just tried to come back and make plays and make up for that.”
In Miami, Ginn was regarded as a bust. The former No. 9 overall draft pick had just one season of more than 500 receiving yards. The Dolphins shipped him to San Francisco for a fifth-round draft pick.
Ginn withered away in the bay. He had seasons of 163 yards, then 220 yards and then 1 yard. He had been relegated to special teams duty, essentially.
Ginn, one of most electric collegiate receivers during his time in Ohio State, had just 1 receiving yard on two catches. His career was effectively dead.
“(I’m) just blessed to have him playing the best football in his career I feel like,” Newton said. “He’s picking up more of the offense than (just) being labeled a special teams specialist. I know that was a cloud over his head. For him to conquer that X receiver position, which is an important position in this offense, he’s been doing a good job.”
So when the Panthers scooped him up in free agency before the 2013 season, the price was just $1 million – relatively nothing in the world of NFL Monopoly money.
Ginn made people remember him in 2013, catching 36 passes for 556 yards and five touchdowns.
His most memorable touchdown came on a primetime game that let a national audience know the Panthers were for real. His 25-yard touchdown catch and run against the New England Patriots was the game-winner in the Monday Night Football contest.
Ginn parlayed that success into a big contract with the Cardinals. The three-year deal worth $9.75 was more than the Panthers could afford to pay for his services.
But he’s back this year (on a two-year deal) after being looked over in Arizona for the younger, less expensive option.
There may be younger options in Carolina; even less expensive options. Weekly there are questions of whether the Panthers will try to bring in more help at receiver.
But each week Ginn comes back to the field determined to make people remember his name.