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Peppers retires after illustrious 17-year career


Former Bears star defensive end Julius Peppers on Friday announced his retirement from the NFL after 17 seasons.

Peppers spent four of those seasons with the Bears from 2010-13. Starting all 64 games during that span, he recorded 37.5 sacks, 47 tackles-for-loss, three interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries. He also scored a touchdown on a 42-yard fumble return in a 40-23 win over the Steelers on Sept. 22, 2013.

Peppers was named first-team All-Pro in 2010 when he helped the Bears win the NFC North with an 11-5 record and was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons in Chicago. He tied for the Bears' lead with 8.0 sacks in 2010 and then topped the defense with 11.0 sacks in 2011, 11.5 in 2012 and 7.5 in 2013.

In announcing his retirement on "The Players Tribune" website, Peppers wrote: "Bears fans ... man ... I could not have chosen a better place to make my first stop outside of North Carolina. You were so welcoming and so supportive. I was very proud to wear that uniform. I'll always love the city of Chicago."

Peppers grew up in North Carolina, played football and basketball at the University of North Carolina, and spent 10 NFL seasons in two stints with the Carolina Panthers.

He was selected by the Panthers with the second overall pick in the 2002 draft and played eight years with his hometown team before leaving to sign with the Bears. After four years in Chicago, he spent three seasons with the Green Bay Packers before returning to the Panthers for the final two years of his career.

Ranked fourth on the NFL's all-time list with 159.5 sacks, Peppers is expected to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. The only players who compiled more sacks are all in the Hall of Fame: Bruce Smith (200), Reggie White (198) and Kevin Greene (160).

Remarkably, Peppers played in all 16 games in 15 of his 17 NFL seasons, including the last 11. He finished his career by playing in 176 straight contests, last missing a game in 2007 during his first stint with the Panthers.