In 2001, the Panthers added a player to their team who came with very little fanfare, but left as a fan-favorite in 2009.
Nick Goings never said much during his eight years with the Carolina Panthers, but his actions spoke loud for those inside Bank of America Stadium.
"Nick made the most of his talent and was one of the most popular players in the locker room and among the coaching staff. You look for people who are accountable, and Nick was that," said head coach John Fox.
Despite his quiet nature, Goings was one of the more active pranksters among the players.
"He didn't say much, but he was always good for a practical joke and laugh," said quarterback Jake Delhomme. "We are going to miss him."
When Goings arrived in Carolina in 2001, he wasn't expected to last beyond the team's return to Charlotte from Spartanburg, SC.
Goings was not a standout starter in college, as his career at Ohio State fizzled and he wound up playing backup to Kevin Barlow at Pittsburgh.
Barlow was drafted in the third round in 2001 by the San Francisco 49ers, while Goings signed with the Panthers as an undrafted free agent.
A longshot, he persevered to make the team and rushed for 86 yards on 25 attempts in a reserve role in a season opening upset of the Vikings in Minnesota.
That was the highlight of the year for Goings and the Panthers, a season that saw Carolina finish 1-15; a season that, in the end, resulted in a coaching change, ushering in the John Fox era.
Goings' niche as a role player and special teams standout caught the eye of Fox in his first season as Panthers head coach.
His role did not change for the next two-and-a-half years, until injuries sidelined running backs Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster midway through the 2004 season, and Goings was thrust into the starting lineup.
Goings responded in heroic fashion, with five 100-yard games in six starts, including a team record four in a row, which DeAngelo Williams tied last season.
In a December game against New Orleans, he carried 36 times, a team record that still stands, and finished the season with 821 yards rushing.
It was almost enough to thrust the Panthers into the playoffs, but when Davis and Foster returned the next season, Goings remained on the depth chart at running back. Once again, injuries put him in play in the playoffs, where he gained 97 yards against the New York Giants and Chicago.
More than half his career rushing total of 1,470 yards came in the half season of '04, but his yardage still ranks seventh best in team history. His 110 receptions are 10th on the team's career list, as are his 105 games played. On special teams, he ranks fifth with 53 career tackles.
Although he might have been unassuming in his arrival, Goings' contributions were loud and clear upon his departure.
Story shared from the Carolina Panthers official publication, Roar.