CHARLOTTE – Ted Ginn, Jr. has a vivid reminder of his challenging season spent with the Arizona Cardinals, but Ginn says he's letting that experience roll off his back as the Carolina Panthers prepare to host Arizona in the NFC Championship.
"It's the next team up. That's all," Ginn said. "Everything about me is to the side."
But a little something about Ginn's recent past is literally on his back, a tattoo of the Cardinals logo that no doubt reminds him of what seemed like a lost season.
Ginn, however, doesn't look at it that way.
"Not at all," Ginn said. "It made me who I am. Made me who I am today."
What Ginn is today is the leading receiver for the Panthers, having caught 10 touchdown passes in the regular season after totaling 11 over his first eight NFL seasons. Five of the other 11 came with the Panthers in 2013, but in 2014 with the Cardinals, he caught just 14 passes.
Ginn's one season with Arizona ended in Bank of America Stadium in the NFC Wild Card round, when his fumble on a kickoff return virtually ended the Cardinals' hopes for a comeback victory.
A couple of weeks after the Super Bowl, the Cardinals cut Ginn, and it wasn't a big surprise when he landed back in Carolina.
"When you've been in this league for a while, older guys understand situations. We saw what was going on," Ginn said over the inkling he had the night of that playoff game that he might end up back with the Panthers. "I spent time out there. I had a great time. Here, I'm having my best time."
Will Ginn admit he's at least a little sore about being released?
"No," he said. "Michael Jordan got cut."
Ginn proved in 2013 his value to the Panthers as a No. 3 receiver, topping 500 receiving yards for just the second time in his career to go with the then-career-high five receiving touchdowns.
This year, he has taken it to a whole other level. When top target Kelvin Benjamin went down to a season-ending knee injury, those outside the locker room were looking around wondering how the Panthers would possibly get production from the position group.
From the first game, Ginn provided the answer, playing like the first-round draft pick he was for the Miami Dolphins back in 2007.
"You lose a 6-5 guy and start playing with all 6-foot guys? It will make you a little chippy, make you eager to fight even more to make a better block or whatever," Ginn said. "We were already erased – the Carolina Panthers weren't going to be able to do nothing – but our guys stepped up and went out and fought."
That's what Ginn will do again Sunday against his former team.
"Competition is competition, no matter where it comes from," he said. "Whatever happened to me a year ago has nothing to do with Sunday."
View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game against the Cardinals.