Another former Carolina Panther great has decided to hang up his cleats.
Tight end Greg Olsen announced his retirement on the Fox pregame show Sunday prior to the NFC Championship Game. Olsen finishes a 14-year NFL career as one of the top tight ends in NFL history. His final season was spent with the Seattle Seahawks, but he was limited at the end of the year as he dealt with an injury.
He will continue his career as a Fox sports broadcaster, a deal he signed last year. While he was still playing, he did some analyst work for the network.
“(I’m) proud of what I was able to accomplish in this league, proud of the relationships and everything that the game has given me. But sometimes, when it’s time, it’s time, and my time in the NFL now has come to an end. I’m excited for the next chapter,” Olsen said when announcing the news. “I’ve got it all out of my system.”
Olsen, 35, spent nine years with the Panthers after being traded by Chicago in 2011 for a third-round pick. With the Panthers, he became one of Cam Newton’s most reliable targets.
He is a three-time Pro Bowler (2014-16) and was a first-round draft pick in 2007. Olsen is also the Panthers’ all-time leading tight end in receiving yards (6,463), receptions (524) and 100-yard receiving games (11). In terms of Carolina receiving records, he ranks third all-time in yards and receptions behind Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad, and fourth in receiving touchdowns (39).
Among all tight ends in the Super Bowl era, he is fifth in receptions (742), receiving yards (8,683) and eighth in receiving touchdowns (60).
Olsen had three consecutive 1,000-plus yard receiving seasons from 2014-16, becoming the first tight end in NFL history to do so. During his first six seasons with the Panthers, he did not sit out a single game, but over the last three years in Carolina, he missed 18.
Olsen was due around $11.7 million dollars from the Panthers in 2020, the final year of his contract, but former general manager Marty Hurney informed him during Super Bowl week that the team would be releasing him. The Seahawks then signed him to a one-year, $7 million deal, despite interest from other teams like the Buffalo Bills. In his final season, he played in 11 regular-season games, catching 24 passes for 239 yards and one touchdown. He did not have a reception in the team’s playoff loss to the Rams.
“I try to not look back and have regrets. I have so much I am proud of over my career. But as I look back on my career, I have two. I regret never reaching the top of the mountain. I regret walking off the field under the weight of confetti, but realizing our dream came up short,” Olsen posted on Instagram.
“My ultimate regret was not being able to enjoy the end with my family. Watching the time tick down, in an empty stadium, knowing it would be my last game. Not having the ability to be surrounded by my loved ones. Not being able to hug them and thank them for a lifetime of love and sacrifice.”
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) January 24, 2021
He was twice named the Panthers’ finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award. Olsen and his wife, Kara, established The HEARTest Yard fund as part of the Greg Olsen Foundation after one of his sons, T.J., was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital heart disease.
The family has done significant charity work with the Levine’s Children Hospital, including donating $2.5 million last year to help build a pediatric cardiovascular and congenital heart outpatient clinic. That clinic — The HEARTest Yard Congenital Heart Center at Levine Children’s — opened last month.
The Center boasts nearly 25,000 square feet of modern, bright and interactive space for all children. It features a dedicated fetal echocardiography lab, 25 patient rooms and additional technology and advancements to meet patient needs. The clinic also features a separate space for adults with congenital heart disease and will enable the Levine Children’s and Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute teams to provide specialized and personalized care for patients from before birth through adulthood.