The Last Original Panther is at it again. John Kasay, 39, just signed a four-year contract extension that will keep him with the Carolina Panthers until age 43 and through the 2012 season, assuming he fulfills it.
Kasay is a true original in a number of ways. He truly doesn't care a bit about milestones. He never knows where he ranks on any list of any type. He never looks back or forward very far. And he represents himself as his own agent -- very rare in the NFL.
I remember going to Kasay's first press conference as a Panther -- he and defensive linemen Mike Fox were the Panthers' first two free-agent signees in February 1995. Kasay remembered that press conference with a laugh Wednesday, noting the Panthers were trying to get their logo out in public view so much back then that Panther PR man Charlie Dayton kept trying to stick a Panther cap on Kasay's head.
"I already looked like I was 18," Kasay said, "and the cap made me look like I was about 12." So Kasay kept taking the cap off and Dayton kept trying to get him to put it back on.
Now the Panthers (6-2) are in Season 14 and Kasay has been employed for all of them, although he missed a couple due to serious injuries. Now he's as good as he's ever been, having hit 21 straight field goals.
This was a smart move for both Kasay and the Panthers. Their relationship has gone on longer than Kasay ever dreamed it would -- after all, he has had a couple of really severe injuries and still has five screws in his kicking leg. He describes the X-rays of that leg, even now, as something Frankenstein would be proud of.
But Kasay just keeps knocking the ball through from everywhere, and a good kicker is as essential as a good pass rusher in the NFL. Kasay and his wife have four children ranging in age from 6 to 13. They are a deeply religious family and are heavily involved in the community.
It's nice to see good things like this happen to good people.
As I've written before, Kasay would be a great candidate for a place in the team's Hall of Honor and a statue outside Bank of America stadium once he finally retires. Knowing Kasay, though, he probably wouldn't want the Panthers to sculpt one.
The guy loves to kick -- he remembers making footballs fly in his backyard when he was six years old.
But the idea of being put on a pedestal is something he has never embraced.