CHARLOTTE – As the final details of his three-year contract extension were being ironed out early Friday morning, left tackle Michael Oher took a seat in general manager Dave Gettleman's office.
The laughter could be heard well down the hall as they talked football and offseason plans. He was in no rush to leave.
This is where Oher wants to be; the only place he wants to play.
"I don't think I could go anywhere else," Oher said after putting pen to paper. "They do it right, everybody here does it right. You don't want to leave places like this."
Gettleman was the one who believed Oher could resurrect his career after the Titans let him go following an injury-plagued 2014 season.
Oher won't ever forget that.
"Mr. Gettleman, you can tell he does his homework," Oher said. "Obviously, he watches a ton of film. I had heard these things like, 'He can't play,' and stuff like that. I was like, 'What do you mean? I know I can play football.'
"He had faith when nobody else believed in me."
Oher signed a two-year contract that was set to expire following the 2016 season. Now he's under contract through 2019.
"We're very pleased," Gettleman said. "Michael came in here last year and fit in extremely well. He really had a solid year. He's in his prime right now and he's healthy. He's become a quality player for us.
"I really believe in our evaluation process, and to get him in here and reunite him with his original O-line coach in Baltimore, John Matsko, was important. They have a great relationship, and Michael was convinced that working with him would help re-start his career. Michael was right."
Oher has tremendous respect for Matsko – a no-nonsense coach who is a perfectionist when it comes to technique.
"Somehow he has eyes in the back of his head," Oher said with a smile. "He knows everything about football."
Oher knows a thing or two as well. As a veteran with two Super Bowl appearances (a victory with Baltimore in 2012 and a defeat with Carolina last season) he understands what it takes to win in this league.
Oher takes his job seriously. So seriously in fact, it's become something teammates will tease him about.
But Oher knows he's not the only one with a tireless work ethic.
"I've always been a hard worker – try to be the first guy in, last one out. But here, I'm competing against 15 other guys just to get here the earliest," Oher said. "I'm used to being the first guy in by far, but 15 guys want to be first, too. I've got to get up a little earlier now."
He wouldn't want it any other way.
Check out the top photos from Michael Oher's first season with the Panthers.