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September 25, 2007

Maybe Peppers just has the look

  Reading the excellent column by co-worker and friend Tom Sorensen this morning about Julius Peppers made me have a flash back to something I hadn’t even thought of in about 24 years.

   I’m a little hazy on the time frame. But here’s what I do know for sure: It was spring, probably of 1983. My dad was alive and so was legendary New York newspaper columnist Dick Young. I was a skinny high school infielder with some talent, by rural Pennsylvania standards, and Darryl Strawberry was amazing everyone down in Florida at the New York Mets camp.

   The New York media was carried away in singing the praises of the young outfielder, but not Young. My father, who got up for work at ungodly hours, used to put the local paper at my door each morning so I could read my box scores from the previous day. One day, The New York Daily News was there instead. It was opened to a Young column on Strawberry.

   Young’s message was strong and simple: He admitted Strawberry had amazing talent, but urged the young outfielder to stop making everything look so easy because it would only cause him problems down the road. Young was ahead of his time as a writer and in summing up Strawberry, who for a whole bunch of different reasons, never quite lived up to his enormous potential.

   Anyway, you know the story about Strawberry’s downfall and I’m in no way suggesting Peppers is at all like Strawberry off the field. But the two are a lot a like on the field. Strawberry was and Peppers is as gifted as any athletes who ever have walked on this planet.

   Strawberry’s chance to capitalize on that passed long ago. But Peppers’ hasn’t. Maybe Peppers is playing hard on every down and maybe he’s not. But it’s time for him to at least look like he’s playing hard on every down.

-- Pat Yasinskas

Posted by Observer Sports on September 25, 2007 at 04:13 PM | Permalink


I think Peppers, maybe unfortunately in this case, is just too nice a guy. I see him smiling a lot on the field in closeups. Also, I think he knows how strong he is and lets that influence his style sometimes. For example, in the Falcons game I saw him pass-rush one time and instead of putting a move on the blocker, he just started shoving him straight back into the quarterback. This works sometimes, but he wasn't fast enough and Harrington completed the pass just before he was bumped.

Posted by: Ron | Sep 25, 2007 4:24:54 PM

89 and 90 are interesting contrasts. One is the most devastating offensive player in the league, the other has the potential to be the counterpoint on defense. 89 is what he is because of a perceived handicap. His "flaw" of being 5'9 only drives him to prove to everyone what a force he really is. 89 goes out and plays bigger than his size with passion, intensity and pride. 90 is the classic underachiever: born the perfect physical specimen, he doesn't have to work as hard to be better than most. Yes, he doesn't have to do much to be good enough. But good enough should never be good enough. 90 would do well to watch the way 89 plays and carries himself because 89 is playing like a legend.

I don't think Julius Peppers is deliberately trying to hurt the team or himself. I think he is a solid young man, who hasn't figured out how to put the mental game together and what his team needs of him. I hope the best for him not just as a player, but as a man as well.

Posted by: Dave | Sep 25, 2007 5:29:24 PM

People who stop working as hard beacause they want a pay-raise should not only be fired, but never hired in the first place (i.e. holdouts)! If they are dumb enough to believe that lack of production is a good argument for merit, then they are the bad apple that needs to be removed from the bunch. I mean, if he gets rewarded for that behavior, then the next guy is going to follow suit in the same fashion. Any manager that doesn't see that and caves in should also be cut loose. Thankfully, in Peppers case (and they go back and forth on this policy) have not caved in. If Peppers doesn't smarten up, they should trade him as a disciplinary problem to Washington for Chris Samuels. We need someone at LT who can block. Getting rid of the dead weight will open up a roster spot and some cap room (and send a message to the rest of the team). And finally, the Redskins love to dish out the big bucks and could use some help on thier D-line. It would work for both camps. In my opinion... Nick.

Posted by: SYRPIS | Sep 25, 2007 8:23:27 PM

My gut feeling on Peppers is this: he has no heart for the game. He has no idea how blessed he is doing what he does. He does take plays off and it is a shame. He took plays off at North Carolina and he has taken plays off as a Panther although more this year than any other. I am not calling him lazy (yet) because it takes a lot of work to get were he is. He needs to wake up and prove me wrong, and I hope he does. You can call me a bad fan if you want to, I do not care, and I know what I am. I am a true Panther fan who wants this team to play up to their hype and win a super bowl this year. I am tired of waiting and the window is getting smaller because we are not having good drafts.

Posted by: Roger | Sep 25, 2007 8:24:08 PM

I hope this blog and your good friend Tom Sorensen's article (concerning Peppers) is your lame attempt at pepping up Pep. Over half the stadium has his number on their backs for a reason. So questioning his abilities as a football player is bogus. He is allowed to have some not so great moments without you trying to throw him under the bus. I mean this article is not- so-great and no one is trying to back a 18-wheeler over you. You'll bounce back-hopefully. Get a little backbone and stop trying to find reasons for why the Panthers look like hell and get to the real issues. Like every other job, when the employees start to lose enthusiam it's the bosses responsibility to get their heads in the game and pump them up. So let's start at the top young men. Let's look at Fox. F-O-X. I'll give you one more...let's look at Del Homie the other team leader. He has as much enthusiam as that bucket of chicken he peddles on my television. Great guy off the field but, the guy plays with no heart and truth-be-told, he has had more bad days this season than Pep has had his entire career. If Jakey doesn't do anything this season I promise you he is outta here or he's going to be Carr's back-up. He is the best second string quarterback in the league..not a leader. If Fox insist on keeping his ace they'll both be outta here. See ya suckas...

Posted by: riot squad | Sep 25, 2007 8:31:36 PM


Very good post.

I watch Smith play like a giant. He plays with heart and passion, something you can not coach. He plays like he wants to be the best and he is one of the best in the league at his position.

Peppers has the physical skills, but for some reason he does not appear to play with heart nor the attitude you would like to see from one of the best defensive players in the NFL. I know some of the people who post comments on here are going to whine and say you are a Peppers hater just because he is in a slump. NOT TRUE-I wear my #90 jersey every game. The knock on Peppers when we drafted him was he did not play hard nor did he play with passion every play. I cheered when the Panthers drafted him. But, I believe something is wrong with him. I believe he is worried about his contract, getting hurt, or he does not like the defensive scheme right now (ie... dropping back in coverage) whatever the reason it is up to the coaches to display the leadership required to get the most from him. Maybe they are, maybe there is something behind the scenes. I have yet to see a good reason why Peppers missed a few days in camp, other than illness. What illness kept him away at such an important time for almost a week?

Posted by: Brian | Sep 25, 2007 8:33:18 PM

Two Words - Tight End. Think about the best tight end in the game today, Antonio Gates and the best tight end the past ten years, Tony Gonzalez. Both are former college basketball standouts, like Peppers. Julius has the demeanor of a tight end. They're typically all about the steak and not the sizzle (Todd Heap). There's always exceptions (Winslow and Shockey), but usually they are low key guys. You ever see Dallas' Jason Whitten do the Electric Slide when he scores. Peppers has to have decent hands, so I say let him play a little offense. Who's going to cover him? Want to take pressure off of #89? King is doing a great job and having two big targets could make things interesting. What do you think about it?

Posted by: Coach G | Sep 25, 2007 11:21:52 PM

If you haven't read it, one of the first chapters in Moneyball includes bits on Stawberry, comparing to Billy Beane. Both were perfect athletes and 'thought' themselves out of baseball. Lenny Dykstra had much less natural talent, but didn't let mental games get in the way.

Posted by: Theo | Sep 26, 2007 2:56:41 AM

riot squad guy is a blind idiot.

First of all, Jake hasn't had any bad days this season.
Secondly, he has always been known to have one of the biggest hearts out there and sometimes gets TOO fired up in games. I don't know what the hell team you watch, but it ain't the Panthers of this universe.

Posted by: Moose | Sep 26, 2007 7:24:40 AM

I hate to say it, but maybe its time to trade Pep while his stock is still high. Even the announcers for other teams are noticing his lack of enthusiasm. Let's get what we can from a trade and move on. We have guys on the bench that play 110% every play. I'd rather have less talent with more heart, because at least they get into the backfield.

Posted by: Dustin | Sep 26, 2007 7:57:53 AM

This is my third season of watching Panther's football on a regular basis.
I don't think I have seen Peppers make a high impact play over these past three seasons.
During the time period before that where I only was able to see highlights and the occasional Panther's game on network TV, it seemed Peppers was a high impact player picking off passes and making sacks, it seemed, on a weekly basis.
Now, everyone wonders where this guy is.
We are hoping that this magic can return.
The Panther's pass rush is anemic.
We really need to Peppers to pick it up.

Posted by: Brian | Sep 26, 2007 8:37:44 AM

Peppers is all flash and no substance. He gets thrown around like a ragged doll. He looks like a pin ball out there. He had some glimpses of talent but now is just a non-factor.

He'll get manhandled this week by Pettigout and Trueblood. Trueblood is 6'7" and over 320 lbs of meanness.

Do you guys remember wathcing Kenyatta Walker manhandling Peppers? And that guy is not even good enough to back up Tampa's back up.

Posted by: Tom | Sep 26, 2007 8:55:02 AM

riot squad should never be aloud to post again. I like the idea of Pep as a TE, personally I wanted Greg Olsen in the draft. I think our porblem is simple, its lack of intensity and heart. When we went to the Superbowl everyone wore the undershirts with 58 and 53 on them, that was symbolic of how hungry we were. Its not there anymore and our Secondary is GARBAGE.

Posted by: BigBeas | Sep 26, 2007 10:09:46 AM

Am I the only one that connects some other dots about the play of Peppers?

1. Peppers should not be called upon to be the "leader" of this team. He doesn't want that role and isn't suited for it. Let him do what he does best and remove the expectation of "team leader".

2. Is it coincidence that as we have started dropping him back for pass coverage he has become below average in the pass rush and a defensive end? I don't think so. Again, let Pep do what he does best. Put him on the line each and every play he is in the game. Move him around...on the line. But DON'T have him playing a tweener position as a semi-linebacker.

If you will pay close attention to his comments after the Falcons game, he defended his play by saying "He's where he's SUPPOSED to be and doing what he is supposed to do". Read between the lines. He is doing what he is being TO do...but doesn't agree with the scheme.

It's time to unleash Pep. He isn't a cerebral player, he's a reactive player. If you give him to many roles, he is thinking and not playing with instinct. In other words, stop micromanaging one of the best players in the NFL. I surely don't want him to leave and go to a team that will just let him play. We'll regret it.

Posted by: Dpaul | Sep 26, 2007 10:11:45 AM


You said everything I wanted to say only better. Peppers is a lineman,USE him as a LINEMAN!

Posted by: Hugh Haynsworth | Sep 26, 2007 11:17:06 AM

I think John Fox is why pepper has not being going after the QB. John Fox wants to stop the run and if you noticed he has Peppers trying to go into the inside of the line to make sure the RB is stopped right away. I also think are corners are playing to for off of their receivers (zone) instead of bumping them at the line and giving the line a time to get to the QB. We need to play some man to man coverage instead of Zone where a receiver can still in between the zones and make the catch. We had 361 passsing yards against us because of playing zone.

Posted by: CCB | Sep 26, 2007 12:28:35 PM

The people who think Peppers should be traded are morons. Everyone has hit the panic button after week 3. Chill out. Of course there are improvements to be made and I haven't really been impressed with their play but there is a lot of time left. I'd much rather them have these problems now than in the last half of the season. At least they have time to try and sort it out and if they don't, then some heads can roll. I wonder what is wrong with Peppers too but the fact of the matter is its ridiculous to try and speculate what is going on with him when you know we will probably never find out until this time next year when the Berlin Wall of Public Relations over at BofA comes down. Be patient, give the guy a break. Even though he might be a freak of nature physically he's still human and not some football machine programmed to never fail. Hell, He had the owner of the team call him out in front of everyone on camera when Pepps just wants to play football. I'm sure all of the people who post on this blog would be able to handle that type of pressure with ease.

Whenever he breaks out of this slump all of you will be right back on his bandwagon talking about how you never stopped believing he was the best. I swear this site must be frequented by nothing but girls the way some of you are so fickle.

Posted by: Reality | Sep 26, 2007 12:32:29 PM

All you bandwagon fans need to get a life. Peppers has been in a slump yeah, and most athletes go through them. I don’t expect him to break out of that slump this week against the Bucs; in fact he’ll probably get pushed around like the little punk he is. He usually does when playing the Bucs, but at some point he’ll break out of his lull and then we can trade him. We should at least get a late 5th rounder maybe a sixth, but we need somebody to come in who can really play.

Posted by: BigSissyGirl | Sep 26, 2007 1:37:31 PM

All you bandwagon fans need to get a life. Peppers has been in a slump yeah, and most athletes go through them. I don’t expect him to break out of that slump this week against the Bucs; in fact he’ll probably get pushed around like the little punk he is. He usually does when playing the Bucs, but at some point he’ll break out of his lull and then we can trade him. We should at least get a late 5th rounder maybe a sixth, but we need somebody to come in who can really play.

Posted by: BigSissyGirl | Sep 26, 2007 1:48:37 PM

Maybe Peppers is getting double teamed, and held on plays. Oh wait maybe the other teams are running the ball away from Peppers.

Posted by: The Critic | Sep 26, 2007 3:11:24 PM

Damn, we've got such knowledgable fans on this blog. If the Richardsons ever change coaching staffs, the have to look no further than the mental midgets on this blog (except for Dave). I'm just amazed these giants of football knowledge are not on the staff of teams throughout the NFL. Oh btw ArmPitts Squealers and Dallas Cowpies

Posted by: Charlottefan | Sep 26, 2007 6:58:28 PM

Riot squad

Please go back to your Tampa news paper. We can tell your not panther fans.
There is already enough panther fans crying on this page that we don't need you poleridders hear.
If you wanna talk smack come to the stadium in your TB jersey and see how long you last.

Posted by: PSL Owner | Sep 26, 2007 6:58:46 PM

I don't like the fact he's not playing to his potential but to trade him is out of the question. If he wants more money, this is defenitly not the way to go about it. This is to great an opportunity for him and to pull a stunt like that would ruin his reputation. Peppers may be a little layed back on the field but thats because no one wants to make him mad out there. If it was me, I would do like A-Rod and break the Bank. Just think 10 to 15 sacks this season would make him the most wanted defensive player in the league. He'll get it together sooner or later. Lets not get like the Philly fans, come on guys we'er better than that.

Posted by: Born_ah_heel | Sep 27, 2007 1:10:48 PM

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