CHARLOTTE — As long as he’s been able to talk, sports have provided the soundtrack for Mick Mixon’s life.
Whether it was shooting baskets under the streetlight as a child or rolling a putt in on Finley Golf Course growing up in Chapel Hill, there was always someone to call the games that were unfolding in front of him.
After this fall, he’ll have a different kind of game to call — one that involves walking the woods, and tractors.
Mixon chose to retire after the coming season for the Panthers Radio Network, but he doesn’t want to make a big deal of his 17-year run. He’s still going to be around from time to time after the season, hosting some events and serving as a de facto ambassador for the team. But what he can’t wrap his mind around yet is how it will feel when he walks away, to not have ballplayers and coaches and broadcasters and reporters around every day.
“I’ve tried to, but I can’t get there. It’ll definitely be new for me,” Mixon said. “This is all I’ve ever wanted to do since I was a little Mickey Mixon growing up in Chapel Hill. All I’ve ever wanted to be is a sportscaster.
“I have no idea what it’s going to feel like to not have a press box or a practice to go to or a game to call or a plane to catch. But I’m looking forward to trying to figure it out.”
Given the renaissance life he’s lived so far, you feel confident he’ll discover it.
Mixon might describe himself as a simple sportscaster, but he’s been far more than that.
He’s a classic storyteller — the kind they don’t make so often anymore — a raconteur even, the kind of guy who can speak extemporaneously for a tight five minutes on any topic pulled out of the ether. That can be sports, but it doesn’t have to be, as his breadth and depth of knowledge extends to local history, music, or just about anything else.
“He’s just so effortless, he’s so smooth, so eloquent,” said former Panthers quarterback and current radio analyst ?Jake Delhomme?. “Things that aren’t easy, he makes it look easy, because you see how much joy he gets from it.”
“He could have been a doctor, he’s already a musician, there are so many things he could have done besides radio,” said Mixon’s longtime teammate Jim Szoke. “He’s just super smart, has that dry wit, and we can ham-and-egg it and finish each other’s sentences.
“I love him as a broadcaster, but mostly he’s my friend.”