Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers has long since proved he is an uncommon man.
On Sunday, the 37-year-old freight train became one of just four players in NFL history to amass 10 or more sacks in at least 10 seasons.
Peppers reached the milestone by combining with defensive end Mario Addison on a sack of Peppers’ old teammate, Aaron Rodgers, on a huge fourth-down stop in the fourth quarter. The two are now tied with a team-high 10 sacks apiece.
After, Rodgers shook Peppers’ hand and patted him on the helmet.
It’s no secret how much the two respect each other.
“Julius Peppers and I have been teammates and there is a close friendship there,” said Rodgers after the Panthers’ 31-24 victory. “We talked at length before the game and talked after the game. He’s just one of those guys you really enjoy playing with, he’s a phenomenal teammate, he’s one of the greatest of all time. He’ll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and (I was) just paying respect.”
On the sack itself, Peppers appeared to adjust his body without pulling downward on the quarterback, perhaps in an effort to avoid injuring Rodgers, who came off injured reserve this week after breaking his collarbone in Week 6. Addison flew in to complete the takedown.
Peppers was not available to media following the game, but ESPN reporter Rob Demovsky ran into the defensive end after press conferences had wrapped up Sunday evening.
“He said on his sack of Aaron Rodgers, he wanted two things: To get the ball and to make sure Rodgers didn't get hurt,” Demovsky tweeted. “He also said, ‘Be kind to the guys back there.’ He clearly feels strongly about the Packers and his three years in Green Bay.”