I will miss fullback Mike Tolbert in the Carolina locker room. He was a fun guy to be around – the unofficial team deejay, the team's best end-zone dancer and an effervescent personality who thoroughly embraced his fireplug status.
The Panthers fired Tolbert Tuesday – as gently as they could, and Tolbert appreciated the way they did it, but still it had to hurt.
Tolbert always knew that day was coming, though, and he tried to max out his time with Carolina from the beginning. I remember early during Tolbert's five-year career with the Panthers asking him what his new teammates were calling him.
“Fat boy,” Tolbert said, laughing. “Cam Newton calls me ‘Tub of Goo.’ But it's all in fun. I am a little plump guy. And I can give back the jokes just as fast as they come.”
I do agree that the Panthers and Tolbert needed to part ways. The three-time Pro Bowl fullback is 31 and was barely used on offense last season. When the Coastal Carolina product did get the ball, he didn't do much with it. It was time.
OK, so this is my favorite Tolbert quote. The quote was 92 words of awesomeness, and it came when I asked him once to describe his playing style. To me, it also encapsulated the way he lives life.
“You have to have fun,” Tolbert said. “Embrace the moment. Every time I step on the field on Sunday, it's like, ‘You never know. This could be the last one.’
“You can't take it too seriously, you know,” Tolbert continued. “You get serious, you stress up. You stress up, you mess up. You mess up, you get cut. I don't want to get cut. So while I'm out there, I'm going to go ahead and enjoy it. I'm going to laugh. I'm going to talk trash.”
Tolbert paused then as he reached his conclusion.
“And when the music comes on,” he said, offering a huge smile, “I'm going to dance.”