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Still Not Over It

Former Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme on not being able to quit football and the eternal sting of losing Super Bowl XXXVIII

1. Sometimes I think I’m going to quit following football, but I still follow every single minute of it.

2. I think one of the hardest things about being retired is missing the camaraderie. [Panthers offensive tackle] Jordan Gross told a story the other night about putting a young tight end in a head lock. What if you went to your office today and put some intern in a head lock?

3. I think I’m proud to be a full-time dad to my two daughters. Plus I get to take on my first love—horse racing. Training horses has been a family tradition here in Louisiana for a long time. Now my brother and I train, breed and race them—and I’m proud to be president of the board of the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

4. I think if I did have a son, I’d be honored for him to play football. The game brought me great memories, and I have no qualms about head injuries. I feel confident in the strides being made in technology and the rules.

5. I think [Chargers head coach] Mike McCoy is a hidden gem. It was very evident in the one year that I didn’t have him as my QB coach in Carolina—2009—I sucked. There’s no other way to put it. He played the position, he understands it, and he’s going to bring a family atmosphere to the team, and believe me, that does wonders.

6. I think if I was going to start a franchise today, and I had my pick of quarterbacks, I’d go with Aaron Rodgers. He’s still so young and can be deadly for years to come. On defense it’s J.J. Watt, hands down.

7. I think if I could change anything about my career, I wish I could have had the opportunity to start a little younger. Getting that first chance with the Panthers, at 28, I truly missed the prime of my career physically. You start to feel those nicks and bruises at 30, and they become issues. You can’t ever get back that youth.

8. I think it’s difficult to ever truly get over losing a Super Bowl. You understand how hard it is to get there and how hard they are to win. The way we lost it in Carolina, on a field goal, that’s even worse. Yet at the same time, we made it to one, and so many people don’t.

9. I think Cam Newton is a kid who wants to win, and he wears his emotions on his sleeve. He knows he caught some flak over that. He’ll learn; the scrutiny level gets higher and higher every year. But it’s nothing a few wins cant cure. Mike Shula will be great for him. But I also think the Panthers need to go back to running the football; that’s the key to success. Then watch Cam run play-action with Steve Smith.


if I had to choose a Super Bowl winner right now, it’s Seattle