Former longtime Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart signed a one-day contract on Tuesday so that he can retire as a member of the franchise where he spent most of his career.
“It’s with a grateful heart and excitement for the next season of life that I want to share with you that I’ve signed a one-day contract and officially retired from the NFL as a Carolina Panther,” Stewart wrote on social media. “Thank you Panthers for 10 amazing seasons and bringing me to this place that I now call home. Keep Pounding!”
Stewart was released by the Panthers in 2017 after 10 seasons, in which he rushed for 7,318 yards and 51 touchdowns alongside 162 catches for 1,295 yards and seven touchdowns. He is Carolina’s all-time leading rusher.
After Stewart’s release, he was signed by the New York Giants and former Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman, but spent the majority of the year on injured reserve.
He was drafted by the Panthers out of Oregon in 2008 with the 13th overall pick.
According to the team, Stewart walked onto the field at Bank of America Stadium on Tuesday morning and was presented with his old No. 28 jersey in a frame by third-year running back Christian McCaffrey.
Stewart, 32, and his wife, Natalie, have long been involved in various charities within the Charlotte community — even after Stewart was signed elsewhere — and recently purchased the local food and lifestyle blog “Charlotte Lately”.
Team owner David Tepper has been vocal about his desire to expand the team’s Ring of Honor, in which Stewart will almost certainly be inducted as a member.
“I would hope they’d say he was the last of dying breed. A guy who did his job and gave it everything he had. And he ran with purpose,” Stewart said when asked by the Panthers how he hopes fans remember his physical, aggressive running style. “At the end of the day, that’s the best compliment I could receive – that I ran with purpose. Because I did.
“God gave me the ability to run and the size that I have. I had the passion to put it all out there every time I stepped on the field. It was definitely running with purpose.”