Travelle Wharton, Panther offensive lineman, retired today at a press conference at Panthers training camp in Spartanburg. He ended his ten year career as he had started it, with class. Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer’s remembrance can be found here.
Wharton played his college ball for the University of South Carolina. He was a Gamecock far enough back that his coach was Lou Holtz. He played left tackle for Holtz and did not allow a sack after the second game of his college career. Wharton became team captain his senior year.
Wharton was drafted in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft. He joined a Panthers team that looked to be heading toward perennial contender status. The Panthers had just been to the Super Bowl. Injuries pressed him into service, and he started the last 11 games of his rookie year.
Wharton became a fixture at left guard, next to the more recognizable Jordan Gross. Eventually the more famous Ryan Kalil was on the other side. There was some talk of moving him to right tackle, but they never did. Wharton became part of the offensive lines that established the heyday of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Wharton was a key player in playoff runs in 2005 and 2008. In 2009, when Williams and Stewart both ran for over 1,000 yards, Wharton was one of the road graders.
Wharton was released in 2012 as the Panthers tried to save some money. His one year with Cincinnati was a waste, with Wharton getting hurt and playing hardly a down for the Bengals.
In 2013, the Panthers were looking to bolster their offensive line to protect Cam Newton and so they added Wharton as insurance. He was not expected to much, but injuries struck rookie Amini Silatolu and once again Wharton found himself next to Gross on a Panthers playoff run. Once more the duo tried to push the Panthers over the top.
Gross retired before the draft this year. It is only fitting that Wharton chose to go with him. Wharton said to the reporters, “The run was great. It’s like a good roller coaster. You go on it and you think it was scary and so then you want to get back on it, but for me it was time.”
And so it was. The trenches won’t be the same without you. Godspeed, Travelle Wharton.