CHARLOTTE — Former Panthers PR director Charlie Dayton was there for the entirety of Sam Mills' career with the team, so it's fitting that he'll be celebrated in Canton this summer too.
Dayton was recognized Monday as one of the first honorees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame's "Awards of Excellence," which are being presented to contributors to the game during enshrinement week. That same week, Mills, the former Panthers linebacker and assistant coach will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
"These 20 outstanding assistant coaches, athletic trainers, equipment managers, and public relations personnel not only helped to determine results on the field, but they also helped to promote the game's growth, safety, and popularity over several decades of devotion to their teams and to the National Football League," said Hall of Fame President Jim Porter.
Dayton, who retired in 2015, had a 40-year career in the NFL.
He started out as a PR associate with the expansion Buccaneers during their first year in 1976, and also worked in Washington. He was hired here in 1994 to help oversee another start-up operation.
In 1989, Dayton was named to the All-Madden team, the first non-player to receive that honor.
The Panthers named the press box at Bank of American Stadium in his honor in 2016.
Also receiving the recognition from the Hall of Fame are assistant coaches Alex Gibbs, Jimmy Raye, Terry Robiskie, Fritz Shurmer, and Ernie Zampese; athletic trainers George Anderson, Otho Davis, John Omohundro, Jerry Rhea, and Fred Zamberletti; equipment managers Sid Brooks, Ed Carroll, Tony Parisi, Dan "Chief" Simmons, and Whitney Zimmerman; and public relations personnel Joe Browne, Joe Gordon, Jim Saccomano, and Gary Wright.
The awards were decided by a panel from each group, indicative of the respect Dayton had among his peers.