CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- James Anderson spent his whole professional career here in Charlotte with the Panthers-- until he was cut on Tuesday.
It happened just as he was getting ready to represent the team on a humanitarian trip to help hundreds of kids.
NBC Charlotte caught up with him during his usual workout on a Ballantyne playing field.
“I’ll just put these headphones on and go into my own little world,” he said.
He needed the distraction.
“It’s been a couple days and I don’t think it’s actually hit me yet... when the reality of it hits me, I’ll probably have a different feeling,” the 29-year-old said of his firing.
After seven seasons, the coaches just cut him.
“Finishing out here would have been great-- to stay in one city. But this is the NFL and not a lot of guys get to do that,” Anderson stated.
It’s especially hard because Anderson has spent a lot of time getting to know his adopted hometown and letting them get to know him.
“My mom was a teacher and my dad was a preacher so growing up I was always taught to give back and look out for other people.
Last year he visited a school where students had bullied a classmate.
On Thursday, he's heading to Mexico to teach more than a thousand kids to play the game he loves.
“You get an opportunity as an athlete that’s unique-- that people actually listen to you when you talk. I always want to try to take advantage of that and try to spread a positive message and help some kids along the way,” he expressed.
Two seasons ago, Anderson set a team record for tackles-- a record that rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly broke last year.