Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC South [Print without images]

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Kuechly headed to Hall of Fame -- sort of

By David Newton

Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is well on his way to a career that will earn him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But his jersey and pants already are there.

Kuechly
The Panthers recently sent those items from the uniform Kuechly wore on Dec. 22, 2013, when he tied an NFL single-game record with 24 tackles in a 17-13 victory against the New Orleans Saints.

They will be an exhibit in the Hall's Pro Football Today Gallery.

If Kuechly continues on his current path, he'll have a bust of his likeness in the Hall when his career is over.

The former Boston College star was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He was selected to his first Pro Bowl this past season after helping Carolina to the league's second-ranked defense with 156 tackles, two sacks and four interceptions.

In two NFL seasons, Kuechly has an amazing 320 tackles.

ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst Jon Gruden compared Kuechly to future Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher of the Bears and future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis of the Ravens last season.

"I said it in our preseason game: Luke Kuechly is the best linebacker in football. Exclamation point! Period!" Gruden said. "The guy is unbelievable."

One day that guy may end up in the Hall of Fame, but for now he'll have to settle for his jersey and pants.