During his two-year NCAA basketball career, his rapid jumping abilities allowed him block 23 shots and steal 32 times. Peppers has established himself as a powerful force on the football field. He started 33 games for Carl Torbush and John Bunting in three years. At 6'5", 265 pounds, Peppers brings speed and power to any defense. In 14 games last season for the Carolina Panthers, he recorded 51 tackles and six sacks.
In his first game with the Panthers, Peppers had two sacks against the New York Giants. He went on to have another two-sack game against the Atlanta Falcons. Overall, he had five straight two-sack games before being shut out in the final game of the season against the San Francisco 49ers.
Even though he was only paid $1 million by Carolina, Peppers is considered one of the best signings in NFL history. The Panthers paid him only because they were sure he would remain with the team after it became known how much money he was going to be paid. When Peppers decided to sign with Chicago instead, the Panthers were free from his contract.
Carl Peterson, former Carolina Panther and current Minnesota Viking, says about Peppers: "He's (a) great player who will come in and help us right away."
He moved on to North Carolina in 1988, where he coached until 1997 before returning for a second spell in 2019. Peppers arrived to Chapel Hill in 1998 as a defensive end and went on to collect 30.5 career sacks, the second-most in program history. He returned to campus this past January after leaving for three seasons to coach the Chicago Bears.
Peppers is one of only two players in NCAA history to win the Lombardi Award, given to the best football player in college football, while still playing in college (the other is Chuck Howley). The only other player in that category is Brian Urlacher.
He had a successful coaching career, including stops with the Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, and Chicago Bears. He's the only person to ever win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award twice.
After retiring from playing, Peppers returned to school to get his degree in sports management. He then took a job as an assistant coach with the Miami Dolphins, where he worked for three years before moving on to Atlanta as their outside linebackers coach. In 2001, Peppers landed his first full-time head coaching position at Southern Mississippi. He led the Division I-AA team to a 9-3 record in his first season and followed that up by going 8-4 the next year.
Peppers was also a member of the men's basketball squad in 2000-01. In the NCAA Tournament, Peppers scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a second-round defeat to Penn State. Peppers chose to focus exclusively on football after the season and did not play basketball in his final season.
In the 2001 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls selected Peppers with the ninth overall pick. The 6'5", 245-pound defensive end started eight games for the Bulls during the 2001-02 season before being traded to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a first-round draft choice. Peppers went on to win two Super Bowls with the Panthers.
After three seasons with the Panthers, Peppers signed as a free agent with the Detroit Lions in 2005. He spent one season with the Lions before joining the San Francisco 49ers in 2006. Peppers finished his career with the Buffalo Bills in 2007.
In 2009, Peppers was drafted by the Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA Draft. He played only five games for the Heat before suffering a torn ACL that ended his season.
After leaving the Heat, Peppers joined the Charlotte Hornets as an unrestricted free agent. With the Hornets, he won another championship in 2014. However, due to personal issues, Peppers was traded to the Green Bay Packers in 2015. He spent one season with the Packers before retiring from the NFL in 2016.