There were two No. 88 jerseys at the Carolina Panthers’ organized team activities Tuesday.
One was teal and belonged to Carolina’s starting tight end, Greg Olsen. The other? Much smaller and black with the name “Cowherd” stitched on the back. Underneath the jersey and a full set of pads was Parker Cowherd, a 7-year-old from Cornelius.
Parker was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor in November 2015, but through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he got to spend Tuesday with his favorite team. He arrived with his parents, Jon and Allison, around 8 a.m. to sign a contract and get dressed for practice.
“Parker’s signing bonus was a big basket full of candy,” Allison said. “He was excited about that.”
Parker and his little brother Owen, Parker’s agent for the day, then went out to practice, where Parker shadowed Olsen and the tight ends. He stretched and the two talked about one of Parker’s favorite movies, “The Mighty Ducks.”
“He told me one time to get my pads down, so I’m not sure if that came from (tight ends coach) Pete (Hoener) or if he was just judging me, so we’re gonna have to talk about that,” Olsen said.
After his parents moved from South Carolina to Cornelius four years ago, Parker adopted the Panthers as his team. Olsen is one of his favorite players, along with quaterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly.
And on Tuesday, he realized his dream of practicing alongside them.
“He had the helmet,” Olsen said. “I said, ‘Do you want me to carry it?’ He said no, I got it.
“I said all right, man. I wish somebody’d carry my helmet.”
Parker’s day finished with a trip to the weight room and lunch with the team. He starts his fifth out of eight rounds of chemotherapy Wednesday.
But for now, it’s about letting Parker enjoy a day he’s long waited for.
“This weekend,” Allison said, “it’s just been a countdown of ‘How many days till Tuesday?’”