"It's something that was so overdue," Panthers owner David Tepper told the team's website Monday. "I mean, to have one player in the Hall of Honor after 25 years? It was time. It was past due time. One year in, when I got to know a little more about the team, a little more about the history, I think it was the right time."
The Panthers previously only had one player, linebacker Sam Mills, in their Hall of Honor. The honor had been essentially ignored by previous owner Jerry Richardson, from whom Tepper bought the team in 2018.
"I had "Sr" on the back of my jersey because we have a 4-year-old, Steve Smith Jr. This will be the only time that he's able to kind of remember what dad used to do. It's a chapter that's closed, but in the next chapter, a little piece gives him an opportunity to experience what his three siblings have experienced. My youngest knows nothing about daddy and football.
"Mr. Tepper has given me the opportunity to connect those dots, to complete that sentence."
Smith played 13 of his 16 NFL seasons with the Panthers and is the team's all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro with the franchise and is considered the best offensive player in franchise history.
Delhomme was Smith's quarterback for more than half of his career in Carolina. He was the team's primary starter from 2003-09 and was the team's leading passer in most categories before being surpassed by Cam Newton. He still owns the franchise record for most game-winning drives with 22 and fourth-quarter comebacks with 17.
Walls played seven of his 14 NFL seasons in Carolina, where he emerged as one of the best tight ends in football. He made the Pro Bowl five times and was an All-Pro on four occasions, earning plaudits for his pass-catching and run-blocking ability.
Gross played his entire 11-year career with the Panthers after being their first-round pick in 2003. He made three Pro Bowl teams and was an All Pro once.