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(Salt Lake City) - The NFL lockout gave former Utah star Jordan Gross a chance to attend the Red-White Spring Game. We caught up with the Carolina Panthers All-Pro tackle to discuss the move to the Pac-12, the NFL lockout, and his career with the Panthers.
"It's neat to be around this program and the young kids," Jordan said after watching the spring game. "I take my hat off to Coach Whittingham. He's made a real emphasis about welcoming the former players. I think that's a beautiful thing."
Like everyone associated with the University of Utah Jordan was thrilled to learn of the invitation to join the Pac-12.
"You never would have been able to convince me in 1999 that we were gonna be in a BCS conference in the near future," he recalls. "And now we are in the premier conference in the nation. It shows you all the hard work has paid off."
The 2002 Consensus All-American has gone on to enjoy tremendous success in the NFL. He started for the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII. He has been named to the Pro Bowl twice during his 8-year career.
"I've been blessed and lucky and had a lot of good fortune fall upon me. It's nice to be able to live your dream."
Jordan has also dealt with his share of adversity. After signing a six-year contract that made him one of the highest paid linemen in the game, he suffered a devastating ankle injury that cost him most of the 2009 season. Gross returned from injury the following season only to be part of a Panthers team that finished with a 2-14 record, the worst in the league.
"I've had a little bit of everything and it's been kinda neat to see both sides of the coin," he says. "We've got a new head coach in Ron Rivera and I'm excited once the lockout is over to see what we can get going next year."
Jordan recovered well from his injury and was named to his 2nd Pro Bowl last season. He would like to repeat that success in 2011 but like everyone he is waiting for the NFL labor issues to get settled.
"I'm optimistic that it will be over by the time the season is supposed to start but Maybe not until August or later. It's frustrating but I think there's enough smart people on both sides of the negotiating table that we can get something done."