‘Definitely where I want to be’: Panthers LB Shaq Thompson on his future, organizational changes

CHARLOTTE — Given everything he’s experienced through nine NFL seasons, Shaq Thompson said none of it compared to this past year.

The Carolina Panthers linebacker and defensive captain broke his leg in Week 2, during a Monday night meeting with the New Orleans Saints.

“When you breathe and love football, all you know is football and something happens in football like a broken leg -- I never had a broken anything in my life,” Thompson said.

“I kind of just didn’t know what to do. I was ... just there.”

Thompson said he received the lift he needed from former teammate and friend, Thomas Davis. The former All-Pro linebacker staged his own comeback from a torn ACL three different times.

“TD has been through worse than I have,” Thompson said. “It was good to have big bro in my ear just telling me, ‘Man I’ve been through three ACLs and I pulled through everything.’ Besides my wife being next to me, coaches, and all the love and support when it happened, out of everything I probably needed that the most.”


Now approaching his tenth NFL season, Thompson said he “feels amazing,” and would like to finish his career in Carolina.

“It’s definitely where I want to be,” he said. “Does Carolina want me here? That’s on them. Just keep it real, it’s a business.”

The Panthers vet endured three head coaching changes, dating back to his rookie season in 2015, which started under Ron Rivera. It also included three stints with an interim head coach, between Perry Fewell, Steve Wilks, and Chris Tabor.

All of it helped shape his perspective on what the Panthers need now.

“I just wanted a leader who could lead men -- who is a great guy, a culture guy, who understands what they have in this locker room. If you look at it, there are only a couple pieces that we really need,” he said.

The fans definitely deserve a lot more than what we gave them probably the last couple years. Taking a step back and seeing how the fans (see it), like OK, I definitely see what y’all mean. I see it.”

“The good thing is, the locker room was not lost,” he continued.

“Once Frank (Reich) got fired I think everybody was kind of like man, it happened ... bro, we’ve got a whole season left.”

As for the latest organizational changes, Thompson didn’t hold back when asked about new General Manager Dan Morgan, and Head Coach Dave Canales.

“I’m excited,” he said of Morgan, who enjoyed a decorated football career of his own, including seven seasons with the Panthers, and a franchise postseason record 25 tackles in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

“If I was the owner of a team, I would want somebody who played the game at a high, high level. That guy knows what type of players to get because he was that player. That guy knows who to scout, what we need.”

“Dan to me is the perfect fit.”

On Dave Canales, Thompson said he didn’t have prior experience with him, but reached out to others who had, noting Canales’ success with quarterbacks Geno Smith and former teammate, Baker Mayfield.

“Everybody that I talked to said that he is a people player, he’s a great leader, high energy. That’s what we need as a head coach,” he said.

“Especially if we keep the whole defensive staff. Personally, it’s definitely not a rebuild year. It’s just adding pieces.”

RAW VIDEO: 1-on-1 with Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson

Comments on this article