Wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad, the Carolina Panthers career leader in receptions and receiving yards, announced his retirement Thursday in a press conference at Bank of America Stadium following a 14-year NFL career.
Muhammad played 11 of his 14 seasons with the Panthers. He spent the first nine years of his career in Carolina and then three with the Chicago Bears before returning to the Panthers in 2008 for his final two seasons. Muhammad ended his career with 860 catches for 11,438 receiving yards and 62 touchdowns in 202 games with 188 starts.
"It's been a true honor and a pleasure playing in this city, serving this community and having fun, just flat out fun. Even in the bad times, I had fun entertaining and I had fun serving this community," Muhammad said. "My fans have supported me here. This city, this state has supported me from the day I walked through the door. I thought it was the least I could do to support the things that help the communities. It's been a great ride. It's been a lot of fun."
Carolina's all-time leader with 696 receptions and 9,255 receiving yards, Muhammad is also tied for first with Steve Smith with 50 receiving touchdowns; ranks second with 27 100-yard receiving games and 50 touchdowns; and stands third with 304 points scored. His 155 games played are the second most in franchise history behind John Kasay's 205 and 141 games started are tied for the most with Mike Minter.
"Coaching Muhsin has been a pleasure," said head coach John Fox. "He is the ultimate competitor, and you always knew he would give you everything he had. We shared some great moments, and his contributions were invaluable to the success we enjoyed. His receiving numbers reflect what kind of receiver he was, but he was also one of the best blocking wide outs to ever play in the NFL."
"The first word that come comes to mind when you think about Muhsin is toughness," said general manager Marty Hurney. "His competitiveness was contagious in our locker room. He was a dependable playmaker and a leader who brought very much to our team."
Selected by the Panthers in the second round of the 1996 draft from Michigan State, Muhammad caught 25 passes for 407 yards and one touchdown as a rookie. His reception total then increased in each of the next four seasons from the previous year.
In 1999 and 2000, Muhammad teamed with quarterback Steve Beuerlein to form one of the most dynamic passing combinations in the league. He led the NFC with 96 catches for 1,253 yards and eight touchdowns in 1999 and was selected to his first Pro Bowl. The next year, Muhammad finished first in the NFC and tied for first in the NFL with 102 receptions, becoming the first player to top the NFC in catches in consecutive seasons since Green Bay's Sterling Sharpe in 1992 and 1993.
An integral member of the 2003 NFC Champions, Muhammad averaged 23.5 yards per reception on 15 catches for 352 yards and two touchdowns during the postseason. Versus New England in Super Bowl XXXVIII, Muhammad set a Super Bowl record with an 85-yard touchdown reception.
However, Muhammad's most prolific year came in 2004 when he compiled career highs of 1,405 receiving yards and a team single-season record 16 touchdown receptions on 93 catches, earning his second Pro Bowl selection. Over the second half of the season, he ranked first among all NFL wide receivers with 62 receptions, 1,009 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
Signed as a free agent by Chicago in 2005, Muhammad paced the Bears in catches in two of his three years with the team and helped lead them to Super Bowl XLI. He rejoined the Panthers in 2008 and keyed Carolina to a 12-4 record and an NFC South title with 65 receptions for 923 yards and five touchdowns. He culminated his career with 53 catches for 581 yards and one touchdown last season.
Muhammad also proved to be durable during his long career. In his last 12 years, he started at least 13 games 11 times, missing that mark only in 2001.
In the community Muhammad was as productive as he was one field. He started the M2 Foundation for Kids, which is dedicated to enhancing the educational, physical and spiritual development of children. He and his wife, Christa, have six children - including two siblings they adopted from Ethiopia.