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."