For at least the sixth consecutive offseason, Carolina Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert is in San Diego – boxing.
Tolbert says he believes he’s the best boxer on the team and that it’s not even close. He’s even flirted with the idea of having some kind of post-football boxing career.
“I would like to, but the way that my life is set up, I love my wife and I don’t want to have to fight her, too,” Tolbert joked in a phone interview with the Observer on Friday. “I’d love to just to get my feet wet, if she allows it. But it’s definitely going to be boxing infused in some type of way after I’m done, whether it be training or classes.
“I’ll be doing something with boxing incorporated.”
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
But retirement is still a ways away for Tolbert, 30, who last month signed a two-year contract worth at least $3.3 million to remain with the Panthers.
Since joining Carolina in 2012, Tolbert has been named to the All Pro first team twice and two Pro Bowls. He said he fielded offers for more money from other teams but, like defensive end Charles Johnson, decided to come back to Charlotte, where there’s a chance for a championship.
And speaking of the Super Bowl, Tolbert still hasn’t watched Super Bowl 50 and has no plans to.
“It still hurts,” Tolbert said. “I change the channel every time I see a Denver Broncos commercial. ‘Denver Broncos fans, your team just won the Super Bowl’ … I change the channel. Or every time I see Von Miller on Dancing With The Stars, I change the channel. That still hurts.”
Watching roster from afar
But he has paid attention to what the Panthers have done this offseason, though it has been little. Tolbert likes the signings of defensive tackle Paul Soliai and cornerback Brandon Boykin, and he’s also not concerned about the biggest Panthers’ news of the offseason.
Cornerback Josh Norman has yet to sign his franchise tender worth $13.95 million in guaranteed money. It’s possible that Norman, 28, holds out of some spring and summer workouts in hopes of leveraging that for a long-term deal.
The specter of holdout doesn’t bother Tolbert.
“Right now he’s going to do what’s best for him and his family,” Tolbert said. “If he wants a certain number, they’re going to have to come to an agreement. At the same time, he’s grown, it is a business, so I’m not mad at him if he does holdout or doesn’t come to OTAs.
“That stuff right there, in the grand scheme of things, is going to work itself out.”
Just before the start of OTAs, Tolbert will hold his inaugural celebrity golf classic at Ballantyne Country Club in support of his family’s foundation. He promises it won’t be like most golf tournaments and that he’ll add his own bit of flair to it.
More time in San Diego
Tolbert will remain in San Diego for another two weeks with his wife, who’s from the area, and their two children. And even on the other side of the country, Tolbert still sees some of his teammates.
While driving in Beverly Hills, Tolbert saw quarterback Cam Newton walking down the street. Newton has been there for more than a month filming a kids’ show for Nickelodeon.
“What’s up, boy?!” Tolbert said he shouted out the window.
“What’s up, fat boy?!” Newton shouted back as a term of endearment.
And Tolbert got his backfield mate Jonathan Stewart involved in boxing. Stewart came down to San Diego from Los Angeles to train with Tolbert, and it was Stewart’s first time boxing.
“If he keeps it up he can be really good,” Tolbert said. “But now, he can’t be better than me.”