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Panthers players just realized Julius Peppers was in a Nelly video

The year was 2002, and one man with a never-healing wound under his left eye was busy making St. Louis relevant for reasons beyond self-righteous Cardinals fans. That young St. Lunatic was Nelly, and by the time he was set to release his anti-global warming anthem “Hot in Herre” (the extra “r” was for “r u paying attention to your carbon consumption?), he’d already had three top-15 hits on the U.S. Billboard charts.

That gave him the latitude to add some star power to the video for what would become his first chart-topping hit. “Hot in Herre” featured the services of approximately 500 dancing ladies, the St. Lunatics crew, and aspiring athletes like Michigan State standout T.J. Duckett:

Syracuse one-and-done wonder Carmelo Anthony, and a soon-to-be No. 2 overall draft pick by the Carolina Panthers: Julius Peppers.

Yes, somehow the up-and-coming rapper was able to convince a handful of young athletes to appear in a video shoot that was just eight hours of beautiful women in various stages of undress. All for what may be, charitably, three seconds of background action in a music video that’s basically a “what not to do” of fire safety.

This fact was lost on many of the 38-year-old Peppers’ Carolina Panthers teammates. Until Friday — two days before Nelly is set to play the halftime show of the team’s Week 15 showdown against the Saints.

Here’s how the Panthers reacted, per the team’s official website.

“Whoa! No way! Yoooooo!” [wide receiver Curtis] Samuel screamed. “Stop playing! Man, no way!”

Locker neighbor Torrey Smith then chimed in.

“That’s young Pep!?” Smith shouted. “Man, that’s one of the best music videos of all time!”

Quarterback Cam Newton literally froze when he first caught a glimpse of Peppers in the video.

“I need you to airdrop this to me,” Newton said, still in disbelief. “I need a screenshot of this.”

Peppers hasn’t commented publicly, though you’d imagine he’d probably have some comment about the dangers of dancing through a backdraft or playing in the disgusting water found in stagnant sprinkler systems.

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