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Muhsin Muhammad has crafted a legacy well beyond his playing days
The former wide receiver better known as Moose has kept himself busy through parenting, business and philanthropy. 
By Myles Simmons Jul 17, 2020

How will you be remembered?

It's a question former Panthers wide receiver Muhsin "Moose" Muhammad often asks himself. And it's a pillar of the way he lives his life.

"Sometimes, I feel like I have a gift and a curse for vision. I'm always five years ahead of where I am today," Muhammad said in a recent interview. "I don't know why I think that way, but that's the way my mind works. I'm always thinking ahead, and I'm always preparing for that.

"I've thought about dynasty. I've thought about legacy. I've thought about what I would like my family to look like, and how do I prepare each one of my children for that next level?"

Muhammad, who has six kids ranging from 16 to 23, certainly left an on-field legacy in Carolina. He's No. 2 on the franchise's all-time list with 9,255 receiving yards and 696 receptions in 155 games as a Panther. A four-time captain, he also holds the record for the longest reception in Super Bowl history with his 85-yard score in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

After the Panthers took him in the second round of the 1996 draft, Muhammad totaled 11,438 receiving yards, 860 receptions, and 62 touchdowns during 11 seasons in Carolina and three in Chicago. He even led the league with both 1,405 yards receiving and 16 scores in 2004.

But framing Muhammad's legacy solely by on-field accomplishments would do him an injustice. He's fit a remarkable amount of life into his 47 years through football, business, and philanthropy.

Muhammad is the president of "The M2 Foundation for Kids," which aims to enhance children's educational, mental, and physical development. He and his wife, Christa, have adopted two daughters from Ethiopia named Maddon and Journey. And Muhammad is still heavily involved with the organization Gift of Adoption of the Carolinas.

Muhammad also co-founded Axum Capital Partners, a private equity firm designed to make strategic equity investments in small to mid-size companies that fulfill consumer or business needs, according to its website.

That's now Muhammad's day job. He's managing director, spending much of his time selecting companies to invest in and managing portfolios.

Muhammad wasn't always headed down this path. When he was a student at Michigan State in 1993, Muhammad was pulled over for a traffic stop. The police found a loaded gun in the glove compartment. It was a violation of his probation for a previous marijuana charge.

Muhammad's coach back then was current Alabama coach Nick Saban, who, during a press conference in 2014, highlighted the importance of giving athletes a second chance.

"Everybody in the school, every newspaper guy, everybody was killing the guy (Muhammad) because he got in trouble and said there's no way he should be on our team," Saban said in the clip, that every so often goes viral.

"I didn't kick him off the team. I suspended him. I made him do stuff. He graduated from Michigan State. He played 15 years in the league, he's the president of a company now, and he has [six] children, and his oldest daughter goes to Princeton. So who was right?"

Muhammad's son, Muhsin III — better known by his nickname "Moose Jr." — referenced the story when describing why he admires his father.

"Him getting in a little bit of trouble and people doubting him in college, and then you just see the total turnaround, it's inspiring for sure," Moose Jr. said.

Twenty-seven years after the turning point, the elder Muhammad packs a lot into each day. How does he have time for it all? He credits compartmentalization — taking the mindset he had as an athlete and bringing it to every aspect of his life.

"As a famous saying goes, how do you eat an elephant? A bite at a time," Muhammad said. "I've probably gotten involved with a lot more than I need to. But I give it its place, and I give it its time, and it doesn't become overwhelming because of the structure that I have."

Still, the commitment Muhammad brings to all of his ventures remains impressive.

"Honestly, I'm so proud of that guy — words can't even explain it," Moose Jr. said. "It's just shocking to see all the tasks that he manages to take on and that he never needs credit for. He'll do that all behind closed doors and then come out like nothing happened."

Muhammad is still connected to football, too, through his work as a broadcaster, but perhaps more importantly, through his son. Far from the only athlete among Muhammad's children — daughters Jordan (Princeton) and Chase (Johnson & Wales) both played college basketball — Moose Jr. enrolled at Texas A&M to play wide receiver in the spring. A 4-star recruit, he chose the Aggies' offer over the likes of Alabama, Ohio State, Florida and North Carolina.

A standout at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, Moose Jr. had a leg up on other wide receivers, given his parentage. But he wasn't fully aware of what that meant until he was in middle school.

"I didn't know any different," Moose Jr. said. "We all have different paths to take, and realizing I could utilize all the tools he has is one thing I've capitalized on, for sure."

But it took a while for Moose Jr. to get that far. His father remembered being in Chicago playing for the Bears and his son not being a natural receiver.

Moose Jr. was in a flag football league when he was around 5 or 6, Muhammad recalled, and couldn't catch well. The younger Muhsin was upset after his first practice, so his mother found a way to help.

"I didn't really know what position I wanted to play. But I know whenever they'd put me at receiver, sometimes I'd drop the ball. So my mom went out and bought me a pack of Nerf footballs and me and my grandfather, along with my mom, we'd throw them every day until I just wouldn't drop anything else. I think that's where the catching started. Everybody thinks I got it from my dad, but I really got it from my mom," Moose Jr. said with a laugh.

Muhammad says he feels like that was the turning point that made Moose Jr. fall in love with football.

"I do remember those times so vividly," Muhammad said. "He was very athletic, but he was kind of like me in that he needed to hone his skills up. But after that, I think he just had a great time learning the game."

And now, as Muhsin III begins his college career, his father finds it surreal to watch his namesake compete.

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Last ride..

A post shared by MUHSIN “MOOSE” MUHAMMAD III ™ (@moosemuhammad5) on

"Obviously, you get this very proud, prideful feeling," Muhammad said. "But the spooky part to me is it's like watching somebody move like you. It's like, 'Wait a minute, that looks just like me.' So that part of it is a bit eerie."

But it's not all that surprising considering Moose Jr. spent a lot of time watching his father's film, picking pieces to integrate into his play.

"Despite him being more of a bigger outside guy, and they've primarily had me as a slot, just watching how he took pride in blocking and things like that — that's helped me be as versatile as possible," Moose Jr. said. "I've never limited myself to one plan, one position. … So just watching my dad's film, watching different methods on his routes and different techniques, it's been very helpful."

The father and son duo have spent countless hours talking football. But the elder Muhammad believes it's been more critical for him to teach how to read and recognize defenses than run specific routes.

"There's a certain fundamental level that I wanted my son's knowledge base to be at when it came to playing a position. He has that knowledge, but he has that IQ," Muhammad said. "So spending more time on IQ things instead of sort of the technical things was a focus that we had. I think I gave him that gift."

But Muhammad has given his son so much more. A self-described "entrepreneur trapped in a football player's body," Muhammad has shown Moose Jr. and so many others what it means to be multi-dimensional. It's hard to put a label on Muhammad because he defies them all.

As complex as Muhammad may be, the reason for this is simple: He wants to set up future generations for success.

"I've thought about what the Muhammad dynasty — what your name means, and what kind of impact can you have? What is our purpose, and how do we want to influence and change and affect the world? That is my North Star," Muhammad said. 

"I try to live my life with that in mind, so when I do leave here, I have left an impression. I have left a pathway. I've left the light on and the door open for those that are coming behind me. I work hard on that, so it is something that I consciously think about because that's the way my mind works. Call it a gift or a curse, but it's who I am."

And his namesake embraces that ambitious vision.

"These are big shoes to fill, but I know he's got my back. I know that I will fill his shoes one day, and I will try to be greater than him," Moose Jr. said. "I know that's what he pushes me to be."

Photos of wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad throughout his career as a Carolina Panther.

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